I do not think I have been to one like it before. For anyone who is interested in these things and/or the promises made by Labour at the recent local elections, I urge you to watch and listen to the webcast. The agenda for the meeting is in the previous posting.
Some initial highlights from the meeting:
- The allowance issue was a free vote on the Conservative side but to our amazement the Labour Group split on our suggestion to defer their proposed introduction of a £6,400 Special Responsibility Allowance (SRA) for the Chair of Licensing;
- The 20% decrease in SRA’s went through;
- I moved a 50% reduction for the Leader, Deputy Leader & Other Executive Members on the basis that they have taken decisions to make themselves less accountable (see wording of motion (especially the concluding bit), which was not understood fully by a new and intelligent Labour Councillor);
- Councillor Sharma confirmed in an answer to my tabled question that despite what the election literature said about the 100 uniformed officers being in an ‘area’, it will actually be across the whole Borough. This is major news, as it has always been the case – ever since I have been a Councillor – that within LBH, an “area” means one of Chiswick, Brentford & Isleworth, Heston & Cranford, Central Hounslow and West Area (Feltham, Bedfont & Hanworth). This is not semantics!
- An answer to the question tabled by Councillor Lin Davies revealed that there is no financial forecast for delivering on the 5 promises;
- An answer to the question tabled by Councillor John Todd revealed that uniformed officers could be existing Hounslow Homes wardens – there was even a reference to street sweepers. I do not recall a single mention to police or PCSOs in the answer from Councillor Mayne but will need to check this again. This is incredible!;
- There is already a major difference between the way in which residents have interpreted the 5 promises and how Labour will deem them to have been delivered. Thus far, only the promise on Council Tax appears to be similar in the way that Labour intend to deliver on it;
- Councillor Sharma surprised the entire chamber at one point by stating that he believed that I am human.
Maybe the above indicates why Labour have decided to decrease the amount of Borough Council Meetings?
Note: Here are the two motions mentioned:
“Proposed by: Councillor Mark Bowen
Seconded by: Councillor Paul Jabbal
In view of the recent decision of the Labour Administration to decrease the amount of Borough Council Meetings, and with that the amount of opportunities for non-executive members to hold Executive Members to account, as well as the unannounced removal of named Lead Members from reports, this Council agrees that the Special Responsibility Allowances (SRA) for the entire Executive should reflect this major decrease in the level of political accountability by decreasing SRAs for Lead Members by 50% as follows:
Leader 34,000 17,000
Deputy Leader 20,000 10,000
Other Executive Members 16,000 8,000
Council also agrees that if the level of political accountability and frequency of Borough Council Meetings are restored that the recommendations contained in the report relating to SRAs for the above positions should be implemented immediately.”
“Proposed by: Adrian Lee
Seconded by: Samantha Davies
This Council does not agree that it is right for the Chair of Licensing to get a chair’s allowance for the following reasons:
The Licensing Committee met once in 2008, twice in 2009 and has thus far not yet met in 2010;
It is unlikely that the need for the Licensing Committee to meet more frequently will arise;
The remaining demands on the Chair are unlikely to be significantly different to any other Licensing Panel member.
In view of the above, Council agrees that the Chair of Licensing will not receive an SRA.”
There is probably a lot that I have missed but it is getting late and my head needs a rest.