The misinformation quotient was pretty high at last Wednesday's Kirklees Full Council meeting. We had Lib Dem Councillor James Blanchard with what I presume was a planted a question to Councillor Khan on the Green Party’s record as the administration on Brighton City Council. Basically the question was implying that the Greens there had broken a manifesto commitment to lower Councillors allowances and top executives pay. On the basis of past planted questions to Cllr Khan on the subject I was pretty sure this was a load of.... rubbish (that was the word I was searching for). I sent a quick email to Brighton Green Party Councillor and Cabinet Member for finance Jason KitKat for his view. The other point to make is that the question goes against the Councils Constitution in that it has nothing to do with the area of responsibility of the Leader of the Council nor was it anything to do with the Kirklees area. Of course if I’d made that point before the question was made or the dubious answer given then I’d have been accused of trying to hide what the Greens were doing in Brighton. So I let them have their fun then made a point of order pointing out the question was out of order and read Jason Kitkat’s email to me which conveniently arrived a couple of minutes before the question was put and said,
“Not true. Our Chief Exec reduced his salary by 5% and tomorrow we are voting on report to reduce the total cost of councillors allowances and expenses packages.” (see it on Kirklees Webcast here 2.22 in)
There’s a pattern of Green bashing and misinformation going on here from Mehboob (see Wrath of Khan) and its strange that Cllr Blanchard somehow or other gives credence to him. All good knockabout stuff of course but you do wonder what the point is.
The other source of misinformation in the Council meeting was Lib Dem Councillor Kath Pinnock. A debate was held on Kirklees proposals to outsource Adult Homecare provision as the result of 5000 signature petition. Independent Councillor Edgar Holroyd-Doveton spoke in support of the petitioners and also later proposed a motion to promote a public sector ethos for care homes and services. Councillor Pinnock decided that this meant the Holme Valley Independents wanted to bring all Homecare services inhouse (they don't) and tweeted,
“Holme Valley Independent Cllr now proposing action to raise council tax 12.5% costing every tax payer about £100 extra a year”
All pretty shameless stuff from Councillor Pinnock, but consistent with her usual approach and her dubious relationship with the truth.
The Lib Dems put forward a motion on restricting speed limits to 20 in residential areas on the basis that it will help road safety. All good stuff and not anything new in that we’ve all been pushing for this for a long time but Highways officers always block it on the basis that if there are no physical measures in place e.g. humps, ramps, chicanes then the speed restrictions would be ignored and unenforceable. I’ve disagreed with this approach for a long time and agree that we should send a message, even if it is just with signange, that residential areas are low speed zones. Unfortunately the motion was not put, due to time restrictions, but I would have pointed out that Lib Dem/Con Government proposals to raise the motorway speed limit to 80 will probably lead to more deaths and certainly more carbon emissions. I wanted to know if the Lib Dems had done the maths to work out if they would save more lives with the ‘20s Plenty’ policy than they lost on the ‘80s plenty’ policy.
There was another motion on the changes to constituency boundaries which is going to see around 50 Parliamentary seats going across the country. There are some fairly crazy new boundaries being proposed with Dewsbury being split between 3 MPs. Ultimately though you have got to ask why the Lib Dems agreed to this with the Conservatives in their coalition agreement without getting an agreement on some form of Proportional Representation. Instead they just got a referendum on an inferior form of PR, the Alternative Vote. They seem to have been taken to the cleaners in their negotiations on the coalition agreement. What a wasted opportunity.
As usual we didn’t get through the agenda and Edgar’s motion was curtailed at the 9.00pm deadline and despite me seconding the motion and reserving the right to speak the larger parties voted against our proposal to extend the Council meeting so we could debate the motion properly.