Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The first meeting of the day was at 9 to discuss a number of issues with the Corporate Director of Neighbourhood Services. There was an update on the Local List, which is moving forward at long last but it's probably too little too late for some buildings. Then there was time for a quick chat about some of the possible recommendations from Environment Select, just to make sure that I wasn't going to propose something impractical or unachievable.
At 10 it was time for the meeting of the Select Committee. We had an update on the consultation - more than 3000 people had responded to the survey and the responses have been analysed by wards, age groups & ethnic groups so we've got a really comprehensive picture of public opinion. We had some animated discussion about possible recommendations and agreed that no one solution fits all areas so we'll need to look at various methods of storage and collection of material for recycling and disposal. We accepted the fact that, whatever our views on the energy from waste plant at Haverton Hill the new government performance indicators do not encourage using "waste" to make energy. We are going to have to massively improve our recycling rate and reduce the amount of rubbish we produce, and fast.
At the end of 2 hours we had 11 recommendations and 3 further points we wanted to make. We also decided to put down a marker for 2009/10 that we will want to scrutinise performance on our carbon reduction strategy when it's been in place for a year and to look at our own waste - how is the council treating things it no longer needs. Rubbish or recycling? We may also wish to look at how the council's partners are dealing with the same issues.
There was just time to do a few more jobs, write a couple of letters and deal with a host of e-mails before council tonight. Some very good questions were asked, and not all were answered but Alan Lewis asked about the council doing something to encourage owners of private car parks like the ones at Sunningdale shops and Orchard shops to enforce the proper use of disabled parking bays. He was told that thanks to his question council officers would now look into this!
Sadly, not such a positive outcome when John asked for an answer to his question about the Police Authority which he'd asked ages ago. The answer was long and read in such a way by the council's representative, Cllr Kirton, that no-one could understand what was being said and in the end the Mayor had to ask him to do it as a written answer.
Our motion on saving post offices was well proposed by Suzanne and seconded by Alan. Everyone was supportive though the Labour members for Parkfield tried to claim that it was nothing to do with the government and that Dari is working away behind the scenes to save Oxbridge post office. Crocodile tears again! In the end it was carried unanimously.
The same result followed for the motion introduced by the Labour group condemning the huge pay rise for the board members on the North Tees & Hartlepool NHS Foundation board. John spoke about the lack of transparency demonstrated by their treatment of a constituent on whose behalf John had asked a question and also pointed out that the members had accepted the jobs on the current pay scale only a year ago.
All in all, a long council meeting but not a bad one at all.

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