Wednesday, December 31, 2008
We called in to debate at Full Council, the decision to increase spending on communications by another 50% hidden away in the small print of the new contract for Westminster Council to provide our service. Because this is now a shared service between two local authorities, normal rules for tendering do not apply.
Westminster are acknowledged as the best at what they do. We know that it is vital for any Council to inform residents and to hear back from them. However, this does not mean that contracts can be given out, unchecked by politicians. This was due to be agreed by a mechanism called a Delegated Decision Notice (DDN) which is usually reserved for smaller decisions that have to be made in a hurry. THe DDN is circulated to councillors and if no-one calls it in, an officer can give the go-ahead.
£600,000 per year is not an amount that we believe should be just waved through. Cllr Brett Young, the lead councillor for communication showed disdain and irritation for having to come before the Council to explain what he has been doing over the last year, explaining that he was puzzled why we would possibly want to discuss this.
Parents who are going to be affected by the restrictions on school transport for SEN children had left by this point, so they did not see how eager the lead councillor was to crow about where this extra money was going. He is also the lead councillor for Children, Young People and Learning Services who pushed through the cuts for children with learning difficulties earlier in the evening.
It never ceases to amaze me how this administration is visibly running out of steam. Once the public gallery empties, they resort to cheap points scoring without addressing the specific points that are up for discussion. I can handle a bit of political argy-bargy but find it extraordinary that they appear hurt and personally wounded when their policies are criticised, but think nothing of finding novel ways of blaming Maggie Thatcher, Boris Johnson for their woes and wondering why the opposition are not implementing any of their own policies, forgetting that we are not in power. Oh well, politically it suits me if they carry on in this vacuous way. As a resident who gets the bill once a year, I'm not so chuffed.
Update: Background music removed from video by popular request.