Sunday, 9 November 2014

Full Council - Debate on a Shared All Party Administration - 'Winter is coming!'

Kirklees Council is facing its biggest ever challenge. Huge cuts in budgets, totalling £152million, redundancies of over a thousand already made and at least the same again to come. The governance of the Council remains with a minority administration in this instance the Labour Party.  It was against this backdrop that I proposed at the last Full Council meeting an All Party Shared Adminstration with a Cabinet composed of leading members from all political groups to work together to tackle the problems facing the Council. It is fair to say that it didn’t go down well.
If you want to watch the debate starts at 2.44.50 here 

Cllr Nicola Turner, the new Lib Dem Leader’s line is that she doesn’t have to be on the Cabinet to influence the Council. This is of course true and is true of every Councillor of every Party but it is a bogus argument. The Council’s power lies in the Cabinet as that is where decisions are made.  To be part of the Cabinet gives real power and real responsibility just as the Lib Dems claim they have in Government. Maybe they are not so keen on power as they used to be.

The real vitriol came from the Conservatives. The Conservatives usually deploy Cllr Andrew Palfreeman during the budget debates to attack the Greens and they rolled him out to address our motion. He often uses humour to good effect but not on this occasion. Andrew accused me of being ‘naïve’ and claimed we had, ‘kept Labour in power’.  In reality no other group put themselves forward to run the Council following the last local elections and Andrew was conveniently forgetting that the Conservatives actually put Labour in charge of the Council in 2012 in return for a disproportionate number of Committee places. He’s also forgetting that the Greens have supported both Conservative and Lib Dem minority administrations over the past 15 years when we have felt there was a benefit to Kirklees in doing so. He referred to the ‘incompetence’ of the Labour administration which rather begged the question as to why they didn’t want to be part of the administration to deal with it if he really felt their 'imcompetence' was such a problem. He went on to say that the Greens should, ‘get to the back of the queue where they belong’ and that we needed to be ‘put in our place’. Well I guess that was exactly what I was proposing. As the smallest group on the Council we would have a proportionately smaller voice in a Cabinet formed from members of all political groups. If anything I was asking the Conservatives to actually ‘get in the queue’ and take some responsibility but alas to no avail. Cllr Palfreeman used a quote by George R R Martin the writer of Game of Thrones in his speech saying I was denying a 'hard truth' that the Greens had put Labour in power. Of course the most famous, and oft repeated quote from his book/hit TV series 'Game of Thrones' is ' Winter is coming' meaning there are hard times ahead. Hard times are coming for Kirklees and the Tories want no part in managing the depleted finances that their Government have given us.

The meeting ended in shambles. The Mayor didn’t allow me to sum up at the end of the meeting and no vote was taken on the motion which probably suited a lot of people in the room who weren’t over keen on being counted on this issue. Cock up? Conspiracy? Who can say? What the debate did manage to do was to shine a spotlight on the fact that running Kirklees Council is not a particularly attractive prospect. In hard times the sidelines is a very comfortable place for some parties to be. There are Parties who say a Green vote is a wasted vote. Voting for Parties who won’t take responsibility sounds like a wasted vote to me.

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