Here is my contribution to yesterday’s 5½ hour Full Council meeting at Maidenhead Town Hall. Cllr Walters described it as the longest meeting he’d ever attended as a Councillor. This was because July’s meeting was cancelled due to the heat and the air conditioning not being able to bring the temperature down, which meant this meeting had almost twice the number of items on the agenda.
The reality of any full council meeting is that the Tories have more votes than the opposition and so will always win the vote.
In my early days as a Cllr I thought that I’d be able to influence their decision making and so would speak for the maximum of 5 minutes, explaining how I saw the item on the agenda.
You soon discover that actually, the Tories are whipped and so whatever the leader wants the vote to be, it will be and no amount of explanation or rapport building will change their position… as often it will be dictated by No10’s latest whim.
So the best way to approach Full Council is to get across the 2 or 3 key points you want to make for the benefit of anyone who might be interested enough to be watching live or on catchup via Youtube.
For this meeting I worked on the idea of getting my points across in 100 words or less, except for my own motion, which was obviously voted down as it would require the Tories to make their activists, chosen to represent RBWM on outside bodies, accountable to the electorate… that would never do!
What’s your take on my motion below?
You can review the agenda here…
The timings mentioned below are when I spoke… thank you.
Overview & Scrutiny 0:59:57
The Infrastructure report shows very little was achieved last year.
I do hope whoever is the chair for Place O&S that they come with a desire to question decisions made by cabinet. Essentially waving things through by failing to question them is not a good policy position but one that seems favoured by this administration but definitely not appreciated by residents, as was demonstrated at audit & governance only last week.
Capital Budget Additions 1:58:42
The LTA will agree circa £110,000 based on a 15 year licence.
I believe that RBWM will be responsible for future fixes to the courts, after the cosmetic works, where will that budget come from? This administration has demonstrated that they have no ability to save for a rainy day and constantly relies on handouts.
I asked for greater clarity around the finances but they are still vague… no agreed pricing or clarity on revenue split?
Cavalry Crescent Windsor
When will the £22m be paid over? Before the agreed works are completed? Before planning permission is agreed to build apartments on what appears to be the car park areas? Would planning rules permit that in 2022?
These properties have been boarded up for years probably because they are a danger to anyone in them. Why waste money on doing them up? Why not just buy the land, demolish and rebuild? Land would come in at around what, say £5m using the current formula and planning could be secured by following the rules and creating quality homes for local workers.
Virement of Capital 2:54:57
More capital funding agreed in a contract but not put aside based on the principle that the Tory Administration believed they could just keep borrowing forever and pick up that mere £250k later.
Can I suggest, while virementing, you pick up the shortfall on the Windsor Coach Park bridge refurbishment quotes before they too are found to have doubled or trebled in cost and the work never gets commissioned.
Come to think about it, what is happening about the Castle Hill transformation? That must have passed its funding date by now?
Political Balance 3:10:19
Glad to see Cllr Larcombe’s motion included in this process?
Logic says to me if WWRA with 2 members is given 2 seats then surely a grouping of 1 member should be given 1 seat?
I’d understand if a group of 2 members got 1 seat then a single member would get none.
e) Councillor Davey asked the following question of Councillor Johnson, Leader of the Council: Why wasn’t Councillor Price given a role on an outside body and instead a resident was put forward by the administration, and is this constitutionally sound?
Written Response: Under the constitution, Cabinet has the power to both make and revoke appointments to outside bodies. Unless the outside body’s constitution states the council representative must be an elected Member, then Cabinet can choose to appoint a non-councillor if it believes this to be a more appropriate appointment, based on the skills and knowledge of the individual.
My follow up question: The key concern I have is that if these roles are given to residents but they are not accountable to the electorate they have no official mandate from the people.
There is something wrong with this policy and it needs revision.
Three questions come to mind:
Firstly, how did the cabinet appraise Helen’s skills and knowledge, was there a written test?
Did the cabinet consult with CIPFA to see if they had any concerns over appointments?
How are the opportunities promoted to the wider public to ensure the best candidates are found? Or is it just jobs for the boys?
Cllr McWilliams 4:06:55
Motions must be about matters for which the council has a responsibility and are not offensive or frivolous.
- Policies listed in the BLP currently carry weight so telling officers their job could be considered offensive and frivolous.
- Committing to a Government White Paper is probably not our responsibility.
- What is the RBWM HomeBuy Scheme? Is it in play or simply a plan to use our extensive slush fund, or one generated by the generosity of those residents gifting their 5% budget savings to help residents who only earn £100k a year buy their first affordable home.
Cllr Cannon 4:29:03
Cllr Cannon has had ample opportunity, with his ‘Public protection’ portfolio, to address this issue of dredging with the EA. The failure of the Conservative administration to keep their promise to the residents of Wraysbury, Old Windsor & Datchet that they would support the River Thames Scheme cannot be solved with, what amounts to, a sticking plaster.
Perhaps he needs to put more effort into how he intends to raise the millions of pounds needed to do the job properly and stop with these motions that ‘tinker around the edges’ of a very serious problem.
Cllr Bhangra 4:32:57
The power of Thank you. Please google Dr Emoto and take a look at his work with water. Thank you is a very powerful phrase and I agree Trading Standards have done a great job but so have our library, housing and all our employees. Not forgetting all the volunteers that help with the many events we host in RBWM, most recently the funeral of Her Majesty which some of us were privileged to attend. Thank you to all RBWM officers and community volunteers.
Cllr Davey 4:35:00
Outside bodies determine their own memberships, including whether their constitution requests a council representative.
This Council agrees that as outside bodies are able to appoint non-Councillors to other positions in their membership, any appointment of a council representative must be restricted to an elected Member, a council employee or resident willing to sign up to a version of the Code of Conduct, to be defined by the Members Standards Panel, to ensure they are accountable to the public.
Currently any LA representatives who are put forward by Cabinet to an outside board are not accountable to the local residents in any way.
They don’t need to comply with the Code of Conduct rules which any resident asked to sit on a LA board would have to agree to.
They can push out posts on social media denigrating the work of local councillors and be rewarded with a role of representing the administration on an outside board?
They can put in Code of Conduct complaints by the bucket load, wasting officers time but cannot have them laid at their door, even though they are representing the borough. How can that be right?
There is something very wrong with this picture and I would urge Councillors to think carefully about how they cast their vote.
Failure to recognise the flaw in the current situation would reinforce the feelings of the electorate, that the administration is only interested in their own ends and not in the democratic process.
I urge you to vote for this motion.
Cllr Reynolds 4:43:50
Quoting a forward thinker, sustainability champion and entrepreneur
“One of the best solutions to the climate crisis is to teach sustainability philosophy to future generations. Replace the prolific desire for excess and arrogance with a passion for environmental custodianship and appreciation. The next generation of adults on this planet must be capable of safeguarding the future for humanity and understand that the existential threat of the climate crisis should not be ignored or understated.
It is imperative that the contemporary generation of educators and guardians provide the youth, our future, with appropriate sustainability knowledge and wisdom.”
Thank you Charles Davey
Cllr Singh 5:09:32
Great idea Councillor Singh.
Part iii is probably a bit ambitious based on what Cllr Coppinger said but I support i and ii