CBC Full Council Titbits

Things that we now know following the CBC Full Council meeting on Wednesday…

Andy Hamilton remains a fascinating character

It’s a shame however that #HAMMERTIME didn’t make an appearance at the absolutely BONKERS Have Your Say.

No worries – it’s not as if Have Your Say was short on ‘lively’ contributions from Colchester residents…

Have Your Say is… BONKERS but brilliant

Secular Christian prayers out of the way to bless the Council [seriously] and it was time to move on to the circus of Have Your Day.

SIX residents stepped forward for their three minutes of Sunny Colch fame.

Remember Comrades: Look the democratically accountable Cllr’s in the eye AT ALL TIMES.

Deep breath…

Resident Nick Chilvers Had His Say on parking charges around the town.

The buck was bounced back and forth between Cabinet members.

BANNG!

…or Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group if you will.

CBC Leader Cllr Paul Smith wasn’t to be moved – on whatever policy it was that he wouldn’t explain.

Proposed Priory Street traffic changes was up next.

This one is going to run over the coming weeks. Just don’t mention rat runs…

HONK!

Bonkers Alert.

HONK!

We long since lost the thrust of the points being made by the next Have Your Say-er.

Resident ‘Angel’ has a beef with CBC. Basically it relates to a personal property matter that is now entering the courts.

Seasoned Have Your Say watchers will recognise that the allegations have become increasingly bitter as the months have become years.

Lying bastards” – that’s resident Angel making an accusation against the CBC Cllr’s, and not The Chronic.

Phew. Glad that one has been cleared up.

Long Live Have Your Say. It is madder than a wet hen.

Have Your Say then became incredibly delicate. Next up was a resident making personal allegations about the support offered (or allegedly not) by Cllr’s Tim and Julie Young.

Ouch.

The response from Team Young?

There’s not much else we can really say about this issue.

Meanwhile, over in Stane Park and a Have Your Say-er then alleged that CBC has its “fingers in the pie” over at the Northern Gateway.

Oh Lordy.

The allegation was that Northern Gateway development was head nodded through by the CBC Planning Committee as CBC has a financial interest.

Meanwhile, over at Stane Park and the objective Planning Committee came to a very different decision.

It was left to Planning Chair and big bruiser Cllr Jon Manning to rubbish these allegations.

POW! Right in the kisser!

Finally some sanity was returned to Have Your Say with Labour’s Cllr Dave Harris bigging up Colchester in Bloom.

Job’s a good ‘un.

Declarations of Interest is becoming something of a mini-meeting in itself

It’s great that our local Cllr’s are so well represented across various non-Council bodies and boards around the borough.

But woh.

Is there any external organisation where political players haven’t got a, um, finger in the pie? (purely in a completely above board representative way…)

The head nodding of Cabinet items did at least provide some debate

We blogged last week how Full Council has become crap as it simply serves the purpose for the whips to make sure that the Cabinet business is passed through.

We were wrong.

Sorta.

Colchester’s Economic Growth Strategy 2016-21 generated a decent debate.

Tory Leader Cllr Dennis Willetts decided to try his luck by repeating the allegation that CBC is only interested in the Northern Gateway due to financial interests.

Madam Mayor get him a verbal slap around the chops with a wet fish.

POW! Right in the Tory kisser, etc.

Some decent points were backed up by fellow Tory Cllr Brian Jarvis of Lexden.

An AWOL list of CBC grand project was reeled off: Vineyard Gate, Cultural Quarter, bloody Wonderhouse. They were all there. Or not – as the case may be.

CBC Leader and LibDem Cllr Paul Smith responded. The thrust of his argument seemed to be that whilst we export folk to work in London, we then import others from elsewhere.

A important point made by Cllr Smith is that CBC was the first Council in Essex to bring in a Living Wage for employees.

Labour group Leader Cllr Tim Young then updated Full Council with the AWOL Wonderhouse money:

[although we have had a sniff this week that ECC *may* be stepping in to write out the blank cheques down at St Botolph’s…]

The 2014-15 Year End Review of Risk Management, the Review of Ethical Governance Policies and the Review of Local Code of Corporate Governance were head nodded through.

It’s worth noting that the Tory group abstained on these agenda items – which means that by default they now forfeit the right to criticise them in the future, right?

Motions: messy old business…

We blogged earlier in the day about how the late flurry of Motions to Full Council were littered with political interference.

Cllr A submits a Motion; Cllr B amends it to suit their own political agenda.

The WEIRD LibLab Cabinet with no Mandate makes sure that it is passed through with big red crayons re-writing Cllr A’s original Motion.

And this bloody process went on for almost two chuffing hours.

But debate did follow, and BOY, was it political.

Make no mistake – CBC remains divided along ideological grounds. We hesitate to say that the democratic socialists that make up the Colchester Labour party are dragging the Cabinet into Corbynista territory, but there is no love lost with the increasingly right wing Tories.

The LibDems remain the senior partner in all of this. But the local Love Me I’m a Liberal Lot are most certainly not moulded in the image of the Orange Liberal Bible.

Which all makes for a very real choice when residents get to vote in an all out set of Council elections next May.

Which way you gonna turn, Colchester?

Probably not down Priory Street…

Colchester has a housing crisis

The housing crisis isn’t just a London thing. Cllr Paul Smith’s Motion criticising the government’s plans to allow Right to Buy for housing association split Full Council right down the middle.

The LibLab lot were genuinely outraged by the policy. The Colchester Conservatives were happy to leave housing to the free market.

Cllr Smith stated that the government policy would lead to CBC stop the current council house building programme. The figures simply don’t stack up for the Council.

Tory Cllr Ben Locker was listening, but rather wished that he wasn’t.

His point appeared to be that CBC was wasting valuable time in talking about a policy that it can’t change.

It’s a forever recurring theme in localgov circles: why bother trying to change what you can’t?

But yeah: Colchester *does* have a housing crisis, Comrade.

Class War then entered the Chamber in the unlikely form of the very non-Corbynista Cllr Tina Bourne:

The response from Conservative Cllr Pauline Hazell was to talk about aspiration.

Where is Andy Abbot when you need him, Comrades?

Meanwhile we got a little confused when WARD Cllr Jo Hayes decided to call a General Election on behalf of the Prime Minister.

LibDem Cllr Hogg made a rare, but very welcome point:

Predictably the Housing Motion ended with Labour group Leader Cllr Tim Young calling for a named vote.

All that this naming and shaming does is to confirm that one side of the ideologues doesn’t much like the other.

Plus it takes up more Full Council time on what was an already over-crowded agenda.

But yeah – Cllr Smith’s Housing Motion was passed.

Over to you, Will Quince…

[and THIS from ex-LibDem Cllr Nick Barlow is worth a brief read btw…]

It’s all about getting the vote out

Ahh – but whose vote might that be?

Cllr Tim Young’s original Motion addressing changes in voter registration wasn’t about making a political point.

We think.

But you know how CBC Full Council works by now – it ended up being bloody politicised.

The Motion was carried with most Tories placing the scented handkerchief of democracy over their powdered noses.

On yer bike – but not in bloody Wivenhoe

Oh Lordy.

Where the chuffers to start with LibDem Cllr Mark Cory’s Motion?

It was well-intentioned, but of course became politicised. Making party political gain out of cycling sums up why localgov is sometimes so shit.

It’s all about the Little People, isn’t it?

Cllr Cory basically wanted CBC to ask ECC to explain to residents why the much-delayed £750,000 Wivenhoe Cycle Path appears to have gone AWOL.

Good.

Those with information and knowledge have been sitting on their hands for far too long and not keeping residents informed.

With CBC, ECC and the University all coughing up for the cost, you would have thought that a solution is in the interests of everyone. Plus don’t forget that the University’s £250,000 S106 contribution can be called back in May 2017…

The issue that Conservative Cllr Bentley chose to focus on however was why LibDem Cllr Cory chose a CBC meeting in which to raise this issue.

Transparency and accountability, Comrade?

Finally Cllr Julie Young was able to update. The Deputy Mayor / ward Cllr for CBC / Division Cllr for ECC explained that a new scheme is being considered this week.

And so some public information at last.

Plus:

Just build the bloody thing.

Even the police can get politicised at CBC Full Council

LibDem Cllr Martin Goss submitted a well-thought out Motion about the impact of police cuts in Colchester.

You can guess what came next…

Cllr Tim Young floated the idea of allowing local people to decide if a Council tax increase of 75p was worth paying to help support the police.

If you accept that #localism is alive and well – which it isn’t – then this argument can also be extended to allow CBC to stage a referendum to see if residents have the stomach for a Council Tax increase above 1.99% to help pay for services.

Meanwhile…

The police Motion was passed after plenty of political posturing from all sides.

If you want to see just how divided Full Council is then talk about trade unions

Labour’s Cllr Chris Pearson put forward a Motion criticising the government’s Trade Union Bill.

Yeah, yeah – what the chuffers has this got to do with Sunny Colch, blah blah blah.

But when you consider that CBC is one of the largest employers in the area, then it has everything to do with the way that the Council values its workforce.

The chamber was divided along party lines. It felt like we were back in 1983 – for better or for worse.

Have worker’s rights really not improved in over 30 years?

It then got slightly silly.

Conservative Cllr Ben Locker claimed that the Trade Union Bill was all about paying money into the coffers of the Labour party.

LibDem Cllr Smith responded by stating that it was about protecting the rights of the CBC workforce.

And then…

BLIMP.

We did a runner.

Huge apologies, and we hate to leave localgov meetings early. But the MacBook battery wasn’t liking the 90+ degrees up in the public gallery, plus as much as we enjoy Full Council, it ‘aint worth sticking around so that you have to catch the last train.

It appears that we missed the defeat of LibDem Cllr Jo Haye’s Motion on attempting to put in place a congestion charge of sorts around Sunny Colch.

Hey hoe.

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