After the coldest night of the year and an early start for an 0730 meeting at the Morris Education Trust it’s now 1035 and I’m sat in a cold council chamber for the last Council meeting of this calendar year.
There are four motions (one is from me) but it should nonetheless be a pretty short meeting.
We start with public questions. There’s one and it’s from Nicky Shepherd who’s becoming a regular; she asked previously about children’s centres cuts. She’s challenging the claimed increase in funding for frontline services which she says are not 7% but only 3 or 4%. Leader of the Council answers that the Council is still committed to an increase. In a supplementary question Nicky asks that the plans be published.
Into the agenda ‘proper’ with the Treasury Managment Report for quarter 2. It’s generally OK but concern is expressed that the Council’s borrowing is trending towards its prudential limit. It was noted that the Council’s advisors had advised that the recent interest rise would happen mid 2018.
Now for motions and it’s a mixed bag. First is from the Lib Dems calling on the Leader to write to the Secretary of State for Education asking for more money for schools. Sadly there’s a Tory amendment which neuters the motion and simply asks for ‘fairer funding’. I speak (https://youtu.be/X8E9_IxhQvM?t=3594), declaring my interest as a Trustee of the Morris Education Trust, to explain why I will oppose the amendment. Having just come from an MET board meeting I am fully aware of how school costs are going up. Amendment carried 31 (Tories) to 22 against. Proposer says we should go straight to the vote and not waste time on a pointless motion. We do and amended motion carried 29 for (Tories again), 2 against and 20 abstentions.
Motion number 2 is from an independant councillor and relates to the street lighting PFI which has been performing badly and paying penalties. However it’s been badly altered and a simple message has been lost. The motion asks for a working party to be set up to determine the most appropriate way to use the penalty money. Lots of councillors speak with their own war stories. (Tory) Chair of the relevant committee speaks against the proposal. Motion lost 23 to 29 with 1 abstention.
My motion is number 3 (https://youtu.be/X8E9_IxhQvM?t=7387) and effectly resets the clock on the CREATE project by recognising that the recent C&I decision was a bit previous. I’d agreed a compromise motion with the Tories who seconded the motion and the result would be a ‘panel’ to revisit the Cambridgeshire Music strategy and especially the digital component thereof. This would then enable C&I to make a more informed decision about any request for the use of the property previously considered as a CREATE location in Cambridge. The debate went well and because of universal support we voted by a show of hands: everyone on favour!
The last motion comes from Labour and is about pay increases for staff. The original motion is another one that’s been altered and this has resulted in it being largely neutered. Every one agrees that the Chief Exec will write to the LGA … big deal.
We finish with questions for the Combined Authority. There are four, three of which relate to the CA loaning its chief exec to the LEP. The fourth asks about a levy which the CA seems to be able to make on CCC and a concern for what that might mean for its budget.
1300 and we’re through. Time for the staff carols event. I reckon I got a result. Otherwise it was a pretty pointless meeting.