Special Borough Meeting Requested

I am pretty clear that one of the most serious things that has happened locally since the elections has been the attack on local democracy.  Here is my most recent column in the Chronicle.  Probably a good idea to let people know more about the nature of our request.  Here is what we sent to the Mayor:

In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 3.2, we the five undersigned Members formally request a Special Meeting of the Borough Council, to be held at least 7 working day’s after today’s date, with the following agenda:

1. Apologies for Absence, Other Announcements and Declarations of Interest from Members

2. In Year Savings 2010/11 (report that went to Executive on 27 July – we understand that the recommendation will be to note the report)

3. Question from Members
Question from Councillor Pam Fisher to Councillor Jagdish Sharma
On 16 July, Councillors were informed of the calendar of meetings for the forthcoming year.  I have noticed a major decrease in the amount of Borough Council Meetings and with that a major decrease in the amount of opportunities for non-executive Councillors to table questions to Lead Members.  Would the Leader make a statement outlining why this decision has been taken?

Question from Councillor Mark Bowen to Councillor Jagdish Sharma
On 24 November 2009, Members were asked at Borough Council to note a report and approve consultation with scrutiny and other key stakeholders on the service spending plans for 2010/11 designed to deliver zero % rise in council tax and continued efficiency gains.
By when will the current administration produce a similar report pertaining to 2011/12?

Question from Councillor Gillian Hutchison to Councillor Ruth Cadbury
The Hounslow Chronicle has referred to you having conceded that the administration may have to re-evaluate another of its five key election pledges, namely providing 2,500 new affordable homes by 2014.  How many, and of why type, are now deemed a realistic target?

4. Motions

Proposed by: Councillor Mark Bowen
Seconded by: Councillor Bradley Fisher

This Council notes:

Councillor Cadbury has publicly stated:

“We have instructed Council officers to fully market the Lampton Park Conference Centre (attached to the Civic Centre) for outside functions in order to maximise its full potential for generating income.”

In a report presented by Officers to the Executive on 27 July, amongst the comments made were:

“There is currently no budget provision to meet this [preparation of a business plan and the initial promotion of the Conference Centre as a venue] cost in 2010-11.”

“In order to put this proposal of a proper long term footing, it will be essential to prepare an up to date business case,”

“The report indicates that these costs may exceed the extra income generated. It will therefore be essential for the Council to identify savings in other 2010-12 budgets to offset this initial cost.”

“…members will need to consider very carefully the costs and benefits of alternative options before reaching a final conclusion on this issue. At this stage, the report does not provide detailed information about this.”

“The costs of the new post are unfunded.”

Despite the above, amongst the Executive decisions were:

“Immediately agree to promote the use of Lampton Park Conference Centre as a venue available for community and private lettings, for social events, conferences and exhibitions, at weekends and evenings, in addition to its present use for Council business.

“Agrees that a proper venue management regime will be put in place and agrees the appointment of a venue/events manager to promote/manage this business opportunity, reporting to the Assistant Director (Corporate Property & Project Coordination) in the Environment Department.”

This Council believes the Executive should review this decision and only proceed with it when:

I. An up to date Business Case is complete;
II. There is a clear forecast of when the break-even point will occur;
III. It is clear that this makes financial sense.

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