Full council – March 2019

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.”

Official photos of retirees
We paid tribute to Betty Higgins, with Brian Parbutt giving a speech; Graham Chapman makes a point in the budget debate; thanks expressed to this retiring, including Malcolm Wood, John Hartshorne, Brian Grocock, Ginny Klein, Glyn Jenkins, Jackie Morris, Steve Young, Cat Arnold-Adamds
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Audit committee – February 2019

I was so determined to make Audit committee interesting – and an N Post journalist does turn up. Disappointing then that the most entertaining story was told in camera. Meantime, we updated accounting polices to reflect new international standards, reviewed treasury management strategies and acknowledged progress in health and safety training of managers. Revised risk analysis practices within the council were illustrated by hilarious project management stories from Cllr. Young and myself from our times at British Rail Computing; well when I say hilarious, let’s just say there was a lot of polite smiling in the room.

Nottingham carbon neutral commitment and debate

Motion moved by Cllr Sally Longford, debated in the council chamber by the Labour Group and adopted by the whole council.

Climate Emergency attend the debate and at least 3 of them recorded it;
(see above).
So instead of just offering speed notes, I’ll have to transcribe what I said at some stage.
– TO BE WRITTEN UP —
Thank goodness for geographers and Al Gore.
Thank goodness for John Prescott too. At one stage, we were leading the world.
the UK will have to cut it’s carbon emissions in half within the coming decade. (That’s what the physicists are telling John McD). 
Think of the good we need (jobs, schools, hospitals), and note how we struggled (labour market, private landlords, overheating the south-east, back to predict and provide for cars).
Even if we’d only done good, would still have had to meet the challenges and opportunities – globalisation, living longer, fundamentalism, resource shortages (peak oil) and climate change.
Whilst the earth has been hotter in the past – not whilst it had the human race and 8-9 billion people.
An example of the chaos climate change can bring – Syria.
We are nowhere near leadership now – Germany decided to drop nuclear.
Our power supply still based on big power plants, although 2 nuclear proposals dropped in recent months.
Instead, in Germany, local power, city controlled and innovating, and more from the home.
Nottingham is on the edges of this with Environenergy (heat from waste trumps burial), once did food recycling, (we designed 3rd generation turbine blades) and has battery projects alongside Portugal and Germany. We valued exterior home heat insulation (e.g. Clifton and Bulwell Hall), although the skilled labour had to come from the EU (Austria?)).
And food
8. Following the model of the European ‘Slow Towns’ and ‘Slow Cities’ movement – radically reducing the (carbon) ‘food miles’ involved in feeding ourselves. Nottingham had an example of this in the City Hospital catering service which threw out cook-chill food suppliers, linked the in-house catering service to a network of 350 local farms (Notts, Derbys, Lincs and Leics), doubling nutritional standards, saving the NHS over £1m AND CUTTING FOOD-MILES BY 90%. It worked brilliantly, until the Tories gave the contract to Carillion (on ideological grounds).
Ground source heat pumping is a key option for where next.
Heating and cooling from feeds at 21 degrees C; and Basford Hall and Grimsby used to be only colleges that trained explicitly in heat pumping. We can draw on the mine water below us.
Time and again, green engineers bring solutions that can dazzle us (although struggling on re-use – e.g. gasification and automated sorting).
Green architects can dazzle us – take the old tax offices. Contrast them with the new CO2 towers. Not even 2020 standard and 340 (check) tonnes of CO2 per year below that standard.
The key to minimising CO2 emissions is building design, oh and agglomeration. Reducing the need too heat, and to ventilate and to travel.

– local authorities will be in the forefront of this … but they will need new powers ie.
1. Denmark’s planning laws that debar buildings using fossil fuel heating from even being considered for planning permission.2. France’s laws that require all new buildings to have solar or nature roofs.3. California’s law that makes solar roofs mandatory4. Germany’s restrictions on access to soft loans (only for refurbishment to passive-haus or energy-plus standards.5. German regulations that limit the ‘right to rent’ to buildings that meet our equivalent of Band B standards – or make heating costs a landlords responsibility, not the tenant’s) 

People say we need a national framework back again, for fear of the less scrupulous taking jobs. Maybe so.
But the environment does need to be shown as part of our thinking much more explicitly and from the start.
We celebrate now the bravery of zone and collar and its 2000 descendant version that we delivered, and the bravery of WPL cos we made the polluter pay for the alleviations.
It took knowledge, and values and resolve.
Let’s learn, let’s care and let’s act.

Full Council – January 2019

The meeting made a commitment for Nottingham to be carbon neutral by 2028.
In the meantime, we welcomed the national Labour Party policy on regeneration.
Nottingham Conservatives found yet another way to call for the transcribing of supplementary questions and answers without mentioning the extra cost, and then bizarrely found ways to blame Labour for a rise in homelessness; when their minister is on record as saying she couldn’t explain the rise.

Nottingham and WPL was celebrated on the front page and in the editorial of The Times newspaper.


Audit committee – January 2019

Well, I’m sure the N Post article sub-title meant to say “if no deal” goes ahead. And that it was covering an audit committee didn’t make it.
We considered officers’ risk review of city council services and projects that might be affected by a hard Brexit on March 29th (11pm). The meeting found that such a Brexit posed most challenges to staffing Adults services; and that there might be delays of transport and regeneration projects, which might have further consequences. Hate crime hadn’t particularly spiked after the 2016 referendum in Nottingham, although there had been a spate of assaults in The Meadows on Muslims after the Paris attacks.
Generally the risk of public disorder that was of the kind that the Police would not be able to cope was low (possible). The risk of low forms of public disorder – well they’ve kinda already happened elsewhere such accosting of MPs on their way to the House of Commons.
More of a challenge is if a number of concurrent risks became issues at the same time.
First comment on the N Post web-site wanted to know whether I could also predict the next set of winning lottery numbers – 1 in 13,983,816 – a bit unfair. I know – Micky taking, but a similar one is predicting the winner of the 3:30 at Doncaster.
The report did prompt 2 local radio interviews, but perhaps they’d wanted a bit more controversy.