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A big thank you
First, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who voted for me, thus giving the Independent voice such a convincing win in the council elections!
The first month
I’m pleased to say that I’ve hit the ground running, and have bombarded Central Beds with emails and phonecalls. Here are the main issues I’ve been enquiring about:
– The charges incurred by local people when applying for planning permission.
– Noise concerns by local residents over lorries parking-up overnight near their houses.
– The junction of Mill Lane/Everton Road, Potton, which has seen a number of accidents.
– Charges incurred by Dunton residents over roads CBC is responsible for.
– Worries over pledges made by some conservatives for an A1 link road.
– Land in Wrestlingworth needed for allotments.
I attended my first meeting at Central Beds Council on 19th May. Two days before the meeting I discovered the executive committee (the cabinet of the council, each of whom get a special allowance on top of their usual councillor’s allowance) wanted to add two new councillors to this committee.
Neither would have a specific responsibility and would merely be ‘general advisory’ but they would still get an extra allowance of £10,720 per year. The two councillors in question were the outgoing council leader Patricia Turner and the outgoing deputy, Richard Stay.
To put this in perspective, the day before the meeting, all councillors received an email from the Chief Executive (a civil servant as opposed to an elected councillor) mentioning all the costcutting measures being taken by the council in order to prevent future redundancies.
At the meeting, I appealed to my fellow councillors not to vote this measure through on the basis that:
1. When I was our canvassing for the election, one of the most frequent complaints I heard was about the size of these allowances, highlighted by the derisory 2% reduction agreed at the recent budget.
2. If Cllr Turner and Cllr Stay’s involvement is absolutely integral to the workings of the executive committee, I am surprised their colleagues didn’t feel them worthy of positions WITH a portfolio.
3. If the councillors are really such fine servants of the people, can they not give their ‘general advice’ for free to their fellow party members? After all, Cllr Stay has gone on record as saying he makes sure the task of being a portfolio holder is not a full time job!
Unfortunately their additional allowances were voted through despite the other Independents, and the Liberal Democrats voting against them.
Rather oddly, the only people who can nominate councillors onto the Executive Committee are members of the majority party, in this case the Conservatives. Rather less surprisingly, all the positions on the committee will be filled by Conservatives!
Subsequently moves have been made to give these extra councillors some responsibilities, hopefully – at least in some small part – due to some of the pressure applied.
This has also been covered by the Advertiser and the Biggleswade Chronicle:
The Beds music service
I have made a number of enquiries of Central Beds Council with regard to the Beds music service. If this is of particular interest to you and you haven’t already received emails from me about it, please drop me a line for further updates!
Central Beds has just outline plans for a ‘Big Library debate’ in June of this year, with the suggestion that the council is merely looking for ways to increase efficiency and flexibility. Call me cynical, but I believe this is a precursor to proposals for a reduced library service across the region, or even closures. I firmly intend to defend Potton library if it is threatened and would welcome an email from anyone who feels strongly that our library is worth fighting for. There is currentlly a questionnaire in Potton library, please add your views highlighting the reasons why you think it is important. Please send your views to firstname.lastname@example.org
What do you think?
As part of my promise to the ward during the run-up to the election, I will be seeking your views on what you think Central Bedfordshire Council should be doing in your area, what it does well, and what it could improve on. I will be holding public meetings and then sending out questionnaires afterwards to canvas your opinion once I know what the big issues are. Watch this space!
Thanks for reading ; if you think you know ANYONE who would want to know about any of the issues mentioned above, please forward this on to them.
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