Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Two council meetings in one night

A special Council Meeting was held before the routine one tonight in order to consider the Cabinet recommendation for Stockton to have a Leader elected for a 4 year term who would then choose his or her Cabinet, rather than the alternative of an Elected Mayor who chooses a cabinet.  This discussion has rumbled on for 12 months or more with councillors arguing over which is better and consultation with the public.  The consultations with the public indicated a majority for the Leader rather than elected mayor, but not by a huge majority.  Cabinet duly recommended that to council.  All along the way, Independent Associations and Societies on Stockton Council have proclaimed, some more loudly than others, that an elected Mayor is the only way to ensure openess, democracy etc.  Strangely, when it came to council approving or otherwise the recommendation they were silent, allowing it to be nodded through without dissent.  So much for their "matter of principle".
The routine Council meeting had,  apart from the usual business, a badly worded motion from the Labour group condemning the coalition government's fiscal policies and proposing that Stockton Council should write and protest about them to the Prime Minister.  It was a lively debate, though much of it wandered off the subject and descended into a general rant about how dreadful Conservatives are.  What saddened me was how many councillors didn't read the motion.  To condemn the whole Fiscal policy on the grounds that it hurt the poorest was to condemn the increase in the threshold for income tax, the index linking of pensions, the extra help towards fuel bills for the elderly, the increase in the child element of tax credits and so on and so on.  But blindly, they voted for the motion and against all these positives.  And not just Labour, but the leader of the Billingham Independents and both of the Ingleby Barwick Independent councillors for Ingleby Barwick East, one of whom is chair of the Children & Young People Select Committee.  How they could vote against help for the low paid is beyond me.
Suzanne Fletcher made very clearly the point about coalition being compromise and no-one wanting to be in the position we are in now, but we need to move forward to get out of it and how Lib Dems will continue to work for the people who need us to do that.
After losing that motion a second one on specific grant cuts and their unfair impact on the North East, including Stockton, was passed unanimously.  And that one stands a chance of being heard, because the same message is going from most of the councils in the region along with the regional Lib Dems. 


the tax payers of stockton said...

So, are you telling us that Stockton borough council wasted an entire evening, and the public costs involved, on a motion to condemn a national government policy. A policy that has nothing whatsoever to do with the local council. Stop wasting your time, and my money, on things that do not concern you. You were all elected to run Stockton, not the United Kingdom. Do your jobs, and leave the politics to the professionals. The people of Stockton have already voted for their government, so why wont you all just get on with the job that the people of stockton have empowered you with.

Maureen Rigg said...

I agree totally. However, I tried to get this motion barred under the constitution but was overuled by the Mayor on the advice of the legal officer so the debate went ahead.
To be fair - it wasn't the whole meeting. The routine business was all about Stockton.