Scrutiny Summary

We’re a bit late to the #SUNNYCOLCH party with this one, but there’s some interesting agenda items coming up at the CBC January Scrutiny Panel taking place at the Town Hall, um, round about now.

Whoops.

And so as we try and type faster than the good Cllr’s of the Scrutiny Committee can scrutinise, here are some of the headline points that we have picked out of the WHOPPING 158 page report pack…

The Strategic Plan 2015 -18 is an interesting one.

As the title suggests, this sets out a strategy for CBC. It is updated every three years.

You don’t say.

The document is full of buzz words and aspirations.

Key to this appears to be:

“More about Colchester than the Council.”

Sum, parts etc.

But yeah – we think that the Comrades are finally getting the message about the Little People.

It is of course absolute TWADDLE to try and set out your civic aspirations in one neat sentence.

But whaddyaknow – CBC has tried to do this with the strap-line for the report:

“Rich heritage, ambitious future.”

It’s fluff. You could almost build an online tool that randomly generates an aspirational phrase for any organisation.

We tried this once for The Chronic.

It came back with:

“Up it’s own arse, still smelling SWEET.”

Which *isn’t* of course what CBC is all about.

When you dig a little deeper into the report then there are some half-decent ideas buried away.

Some of the findings from recent CBC research include:

“That most people liked living in Colchester.

That we need to make more of our heritage.

That there need to be more opportunities for business.

That transport and retail need to be improved.

That growth needs to be managed and housing needs to be affordable.

That we need to be ambitious for the whole Borough.”

Fine aspirations; the detail and delivery are of course of greater importance.

The fancy pdf then explains some of the achievements since the last Strategic Plan was put in place.

“Additional cycle routes, encouraging more people to cycle [you sure?]

The first new Council Houses built in 30 years.

Relocation of the Borough’s Charter Market to the High Street [not quite there yet.]

Redevelopment of Colchester Castle with £4.2m of external funding [a genuine CBC success story of late.]

Williams & Griffin committing £30m investment in the store [but who manages this power relationship?]

The development of the Knowledge Gateway at Essex University [we have a very interesting FoI to elaborate upon once we have finished playing blog catch up…]

Introduction of a food waste collection to 70,000 homes [this works rather well for us.]”

The report is incredibly squeaky clean and uplifting. It is the role of CBC to talk up its achievements.

Meanwhile, Jumbo, firstsite, Cultural Quarter

Elsewhere and Scrutiny will also consider the 2015/16 General Fund Revenue Budget, Capital Programme and Medium Term Financial Forecast.

We’re kinda hoping that we manage to miss the bus.

The report confirms that the CBC element of Council Tax WON’T be increased for the following year;

“A freeze in the Council Tax rate of £175.23 is proposed for 2015/16 which means that the rate has been unchanged since 2010/11.”

This entitles CBC to blag a government grant that is the equivalent to a 1% increase.

Win / win.

There is also mention of the recent central government localgov settlement that was announced towards the back end of last year.

This is either good or bad news, depending on who you talk to / what you read.

The report states:

“Core Government funding for 2015/16 is being reduced by £1.3m. In total since 2011/12 this funding has now been reduced by £5.9m.”

Bummer.

The New Homes Bonus helps though. CBC is embarking on the first significant Council led home building programme in over 30 years. The government will recognise this with a £1.2m reward.

Has Scrutiny started yes?

Whops.

Missed the bloody bus.