A special meeting celebrated the service and commitments of 9 retiring and retired Councillors by appointing them as Alderman and expecting them in turn to represent the city and city council at events – and more particularly do tours of The Council House. The 9 have 199 years of service on the council between them. I moved Glyn Jenkins, my fellow civic in 2017/18 (see comment below).
A motion on LGBT rights and solidarity was agreed after amendment by Labour, who had consulted LGBT groups. The Clifton Independent leader declared he would oppose the amendment, but after a storming speech by new Councillor, Angharad Roberts, he backed down.
The first questions from the Clifton Independents saw confusion as – – they tabled a question condemning special allowances for Councillors; in effect calling for them to receive the same allowance as the Leader and all Portfolio Holder and chairs of committees; (this differing from Ashfield Independents who have recently increased Special Responsibility Allowances); – then they forgot to ask the question; – when they did ask the question, they followed up by announcing they were giving their personal allowances away for local spending in Clifton East; different again from the question tabled; but omitted to ask a question, so the leader was not called to reply. Beyond the confusion about the asking of the question, the proposal challenges one of the core values of any kind of a free society – that elected representatives are compensated for time and effort given, because it’s right and so that people of less then independent means can consider standing at all. Financial support for elected representatives was a principle first advocated by the Chartists around 200 years, and Nottingham was the only city to elect a Chartist MP. A DAY AFTER THE MEETING, THERE IS STILL CONFUSION OVER THE COMMITMENT MADE, SO THIS MAY BE REVISED – DIFFERENT WITNESSES TO THE MEETING HEARD DIFFERENT THINGS!
A budget is agreed, but little joy as it expects £23m of savings in much needed public service to be found. The national financial settlements are unfair, biased against the cities and towns of the North and the Midlands, and the Conservatives are setting themselves up to take more money to give to rural areas. – A slightly different budget from the Conservatives this year. Instead of avoiding any Council tax increase, they propose an increase 1% lower than Labour’s. Clearly picking up some points from officers and the majority group, but drawing different conclusions, they propose spending £3 million on pump-priming investments on social services, by selling shares in Robin Hood Energy, covering the gap whilst waiting for share sales with draws upon reserves. Loads of risks – value of share yield, savings from extra investments, timings etc. They had to be pressured to confirm that they wouldn’t sell off Nottingham City Transport, but I still think they would. N Post article. – I am always struck by the basic element of sound financial management, which is that during a period where you are expected to look after more people in need during a time of cuts, you need to maximise the Council tax base to meet the need. – Meanwhile, we again expose Nottingham city centre Conservatives for their false claims and less than relevant priorities for city centre residents. – Bizarrely, the Conservatives again call for Hansard style recording of full council, without putting the idea in their budget proposals. Even stranger, the Conservative leader joins in a tribute to the 16 retiring Labour Councillors, before his Deputy piles in to say they’re all being driven out by people with ideology. I say – “you’ve got to have a belief.”
We got as far as the minutes of the May meeting before the Conservatives started raising concerns – ‘the minutes were accurate but misleading’. And they ‘didn’t contain answers to all the supplementary questions’. A full 8 weeks since the last full council, and they hadn’t thought to correspond.
They then proceeded to tell Labour that we didn’t know how to run things. Seemingly on the edge of welcoming Robin Hood Energy now that it had broken into surplus and is estimated to be worth £30 million as a business, and recognising how they thought such surpluses could reduce the Council tax; then saying it had all be done wrong and slightly surreal to hear the Conservatives talk about European regulations whilst Boris Johnson was leaving the government.
Meanwhile, Labour was focussed on bigger issues than minutes –
– the concerns about the roll-out of Universal Credit depriving local people, putting them 4 weeks behind in payments; and being found to cost more to process than the existing benefits;
– the inability to build the houses people want cos of restrictions on use of right to but money;
– cleaner air;
– mental health, with a motion upon which one Conservative voted for and one abstained.