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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Labour councillor defended the use of allowances by councillors on low income – they should be allowed to use this fund as they wish!

The Way Ahead (Psst. keep it in the dark - pass it on...)
PBROTRIB Sketch

A typical political party meeting in Pre BREXIT Europe ....

Its always a good idea to check out the content of Any Other Business (AOB), usually a convenient place in lofty 'official' documents, usually on the final sheet, to discreetly dump matters, not considered worthy of inclusion in the main body of the meeting, and therefore not needing (they think) detailed or possibly too close an examination, or equally a good place to bury deeply controversial information.

The deposed 'Dear Leader' for example was a past master in this kind of mysterious construction, or he would just AOB verbally by growling at some hapless councillors from the back of the chamber. But sadly that heroic era has long passed, and all that remains is a collection of dusty documents, a chewing gum splattered piazza, an expensive foray into solar, upsetting PCC tenant farmers and pushing up the PCC debt mountain to new majestic heights.

True, it would be good if we could actually see some sun, but that possibly blocked out by the acrid smoke stacks of the old Brickworks, and possibly the chip factory, not to mention the mighty incinerator (and its little brother - another AOB) and all those dioxins pumping upwards possibly affecting primary school results, who can tell?    

But the PBROTRIB invites you into a world of party  political fantasy.

Pretend that you have to face 'the thrust and parry' of a typical Labour Party PCC Councillors Business Meeting.

They use AOBs to good effect as well.

     The AOB we are about to share with you, has to be right at the top of the list, in fact the monster of all AOB's ....

This particular set of Minutes, seems to have been widely leaked, always a good ideal to shred (possibly eating or pulping) your draft copies or computer files, you never know who or what may be poking around your bins especially as Labour Councillors are shown to be positively following in the spirit of their own Dear Leader Jeremy Corbyn. Encouraging inventive spending and seemingly his P'boro foot soldiers welcoming a huge hike in councillor allowances, to be trousered or stuffed into big white (possibly red and/or blue) handbags. Indeed some considering it as worthy replacement revenue - admittedly for NI CLASS 4 self-employed people - who may be missing out on a lucrative contract due to pressing time consuming council business. It does so get in the way..

But there again, some Labour councillors (and being balanced and fair, we must include some Conservatives as well) are not too good at attending main core meetings, but they still quickly bank the very generous allowances, and even now possibly salivating at the prospect of even greater largesse. Indeed one female councillor boasted (possibly after a sherry or two) that during the Christmas break, she regularly spends her hoarded PCC allowances on back to back cruise holidays over Christmas and the New Year. This may come as a shock to some, and to those on zero hours contracts and others looking forward to a rise of 1 or 2 percent if they are lucky, so for you ...

Peterborough City Council Labour Group
MINUTES OF BUSINESS MEETING
 
Thursday 27th October 2016
in
 
Forli Room at 19h00


1. Introduction, Attendance and Apologies
 
The following were present at today’s meeting:
 
Present:
 
Alan Dowson (Fletton & Woodston ward)

Amjad Iqbal (Central ward)
Ansar Ali (North ward)

Vanessa Pool (Observer for CLP)

Alan Clark (Fletton & Stanground ward)

Angus Ellis (Bretton ward)

Jo Johnson (East Ward)

Ann Sylvester, Treasurer (Bretton ward)

Nazim Khan (North ward)

Richard Ferris (Park ward)

John Shearman, Chairman (Park ward)

Mohammed Jamil, Leader (Central ward)

Stuart Martin (Bretton ward)

Jonathan Wilde (Minutes taker)

Apologies received from:

Mahboob Hussain (Central ward)

Ed Murphy (Ravensthorpe ward)

Ian Maidlow (Unite representative)
 
Sue Johnson, Mahebub Ladha and Mark Burns were not at this meeting.

JS convened the meeting at 19:06hrs.



2. Declarations of interest
 
VP declared an interest, should ‘The Green Backyard’ be discussed. JS responded with thanks but advised it was not an agenda item.
 
3. Minutes of previous meeting
 AE declared that he had sent apologies for non-attendance to the Secretary, as had Stuart Martin but that this had not been recorded. Nazim Khan had been attending hospital at the time of the meeting. Aside from this correction, the previous minutes were proposed ( JJ ) and seconded ( MJ ) for acceptance as an accurate record.
Agreed.
  
 
 





 

 
 

4. Matters arising  

AE advised that he had been elected Trades Union Liaison Officer at the AGM of the CLP, but that this had taken place after the previous meeting.
 
5. Labour Group / Trade Union exchange
Nothing to discuss.
 
6. Labour Group / CLP exchange
 
MJ reported that the AGM of the CLP had been well attended. There were still some discrepancies in
membership and affiliated membership data, although numbers had grown to over 800. AE mentioned closer liaison within the party and VP referred him to MJ who was the appointed liaison between Labour  Group and the CLP. Membership lists may require further verification and can be referred to Liz Moon or  via Chris Jones.
 
7. Leader’s report
 MJ wished to make three points:

(i) A possible visit from Cllr Peter Roberts of Cambridge City Council who has been involved in
negotiations is to be invited to discuss the regional devolution proposal with Group.
(ii) The upcoming Budget (Phase One), which needs to be considered in the light of devolution. A  pre-Budget meeting will be held on 10 NOV 2016 at 19.00hrs in the Group Room. Phase One proposals will be requested from the Budget Scrutiny Committee in time for the meeting.

(iii) Proposed prospective dates for ‘Group Training’ are now Mon 21 NOV2016, Sat 26 NOV20 16 and Sat
03 DEC 2016 and will be offered to the trainers.

JJ complained of not being advised by PCC about issues affecting what is happening in East ward, only finding out that assets are being transferred by virtue of attending budget meetings. MJ will raise this at a meeting with CEO Gillian Beasley. JS also drew attention to items published in Peterborough Labour’s manifesto before the election which ought to be raised throughout the year and suggested that this be looked at for inclusion in the next agenda.
 
8. Whip’s report
 JJ had nothing to report. AD had to leave early from full council due to domestic commitments. This was acknowledged as necessary and ongoing.
 
9. Treasurer’s report
 
AS stated that allowances were paid on the 28th of the month, so information not quite up to date.

However, on 03 OCT 2016 there was £2,061.44 in the bank, but with deductions this will generally leave
around £55.32 per month. Reserve is usually taken as £950.00 –and considering the contribution for the
New Members event of £50.00 and this would leave approx. £1,000.00 at the moment, not enough should
 
there be an election this year. Contributions are a bit messy as not all are applied in the same way. JS suggested buying Christmas for the Governor’s team, Members’ Services, the Beadles and ‘front of house’ team, as previously. Agreed.
 
10. Key issues: litter and fly-tipping
 
 
 





 

 
 
 
 
The discussion opened around issues of the environment, penalties and enforcement. Fly tipping (e.g. builders’ waste) can be reported to the Environment Agency (0800 807360), but small amounts are best

notified to PCC. https://www.fixmystreet.com/ was mentioned as a useful resource. There are local powers to penalise; fines of up to £50k of 5 years in prison – or both. Various councillors reported an increase of fly tipping and also that leaving bins out all week happened in certain areas of wards. AD and AE requested that a letter be issued by PCC to residents, threatening legal action and the imposition of fines. AS mentioned that Amey will contact residents directly if addresses are reported. MJ noted that the scrutiny committee was asked to examine the cost of skips against the cost of sending Amey to make additional collections, and it is considered that the payments to Amey far exceed the alternative.

JW spoke about the cost of enforcement and prosecution. How does that stand up against the revenue of collected fees for bulky waste removal? Perhaps a community skip on a regular basis would be useful in that collections could be anticipated. AE brought to Group’s attention that a number of councils either do not or no longer charge for collections. To make a proper assessment we need to know whether Amey are paid a lump sum for the year or on a per visit basis.

Fly tipping and issues surrounding drug paraphernalia were issues in both East and North wards.

Community skips have been proved a success and need to be extended. It was noted that Amey will only collect what is on their list as part of their £80k contract. Rubbish is dumped on footpaths  because people
 
know it will be collected – that is why this behaviour persists, although new disposal site in Fengate may
help, enforcement should be encouraged.

93% of the street cleaning budget is used in the city centre and this imbalance creates more of a problem elsewhere as other areas are considered a much lower priority for the mechanical sweepers. Street cleaning can be as infrequent as once in three weeks. Garden rubbish appears in fly tipping now that brown bin collections are charged for. How are the streets prioritised as to which ones get cleaned and
when? Who makes that decision? AA has received lots of complaints about regular hotspots. Some wards have been more affected than others, although possibly the problem is not so apparent in the wealthier areas of Tory held wards.

RF Both AA and RF have met with Gillian Beasley and spoken about breaking up the Amey contract into ‘ward budgets’, with the wards to agree how this money is spent: street cleaning, lighting etc. Specifically want to see better street cleaning in places other than the city centre. Mick George has provided free skips  as their use promotes business, so we need to look at community skips and collections.

Costings for ‘ward by ward’ can be provided by James Collingwood. Action can be determined, perhaps through
the Budget Working Group looking at landscaping and shrubs. Streets could be moved from medium to low
 
priority or vice versa, identifying particular streets in wards. RF , AE , AI , JJ and AC will set up a working group for
this purpose – to be arranged by RF . Streets and Footpaths’ will be the topic for discussion next month.

11. Any other business
  
JS announced that there had been requests to discuss three  other items:

(i) Members’ Allowances – AE stated that although voted against, could we not take the increase, or
donate it to the wards? JS thought we ought to retain sufficient for publications such as newsletters.
AD defended the use of allowances by councillors on low income – they should be allowed to use this
fund as they wish; it has been provided to be at their disposal. Some can of course donate or use the
allowance for ward purposes. NK pointed out that this is the first increase since 2009, whilst AE noted that it wasn’t just the PT criticising councillors for taking the money. Other public workers are only  getting 1%-2% increases and councillor’s rises should be in line with other council workers. SM suggested that councillors do as they will; pocket it, donate to charity or use in the ward – and let it be  known. MJ noted that the allowance meant different things to different people, since councillors had many differing circumstances; the loss of time for the self-employed equated to foregone income and this could be many times the allowance. RF concurred that it could be very difficult to be a councillor without independent means.
 
(ii) Nominations for the ‘elected mayor’ election – EM had announced his wish to be considered as a candidate by email and this was endorsed by AD, although AD considered a Labour party member might have slim chance of winning. JJ wondered who else might stand and whether it was the right  time to nominate as a decision on having a mayor had not been given. AD accepted JJ ’s argument.

AA also thought a decision was premature but said he was also thinking of putting himself forward.

VP clarified that the CLP will want to make its own nominations, and invite support from group as part
of the process. AE thought we need to see a selection of willing candidates in order to decide on  nominations. AI considered any suggestion today to be premature, although EM ’s interest was  accepted and respected. JS concluded the topic by commenting that it might be inappropriate to
make a determination and that it should be left to the CLP.
 (iii) St Michael’s Gate – JJ had met with three council staff [members] and the Leader to discuss alternatives but these

were dismissed. JS mentioned that he had discussed a cross-party call-in with Darren Fower (LibDem),

but had afterwards been left in the cold. JJ then mentioned the behaviour of Wayne F and David S  was [allegedly] considered awful and the incident afterwards [allegedly] disgraceful and was referring this to Legal Affairs.
 
MJ thanked JJ and JW for the efforts they were putting into the St Michael’s Gate case, but considered  that the residents may be taking it that the LibDems are doing all the running. JW appraised the group of building legislation issues and that PCC could perhaps be challenged in court for not considering the
implications of such land use i.e. taking it out of general housing use and providing accommodation to
 a particular sector of the market – if there were consequences which could have been foreseen.

Although many were involved in this particular case, it was only right that all work should be done in
the name of, or attributable to JJ as ward councillor; there was general agreement on this point. AI referenced the Childrens Act 2007, S.55 and the Borders, Citizens and Immigration Act 2009 as having significant bearing on the St Michael’s Gate decision. AA concurred that JJ will lead on this case and JW called for an acknowledgement of support which Group assented to. JS suggested that an Extraordinary Council meeting be convened to scrutinize the basis of the decision to proceed with the deal. AE considered it a big issue, and despite the Extraordinary Meeting called for the devolution
decision, this was sufficiently important to merit its own additional Extraordinary Meeting. JS asked how many signatures would be required for the Mayor to be bound by a decision to consider such a request. Five councillors, apparently.  

(iv) RF added a fourth item: the future of the Green Backyard has been discussed at Cabinet but the decision is referred to the Conservative Group meeting tonight for consideration. The Green Backyard
has a huge community following and the Labour Group should be ready to stand up and support this
resource.
 
12. Date of next meeting
 
The time and date of the next meeting were not set.

[Meeting concluded at 21:05 hrs with councillors signing AE ’s document requesting an Extraordinary Meeting on the St Michael’s Gate decision.]
 
        -----oO0Oo-----

 




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ampoon (lampoon) Pronunciation: /lamˈpuːn/ verb [with object] publicly criticize (someone or something) by using ridicule, irony, or sarcasm: the actor was lampooned by the press noun a speech or text lampooning someone or something: the magazine fired at God, Royalty, and politicians, using cartoons and lampoons.

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