Comment posted Opposition evaluations of three year council budget by Integrity? Not in the ConDemAll.
I noted Cllr Robb’s reference to the council selling common good owned assets with the capital receipts being ‘invested’ outwith the Helensburgh area.
It would be interesting to know specifically which of the assets referred to are common good owned and what, if any, restrictions there are regarding the Council’s use of them, or any income they generate.
Integrity? Not in the ConDemAll also commented
- Simon’s scattergun approach to threads trying to catch a fish regarding the support of the administration budget is almost childlike in its disregard for the crux of the matter. I dare say if there was evidence that opposition councillors voted against an administration policy purely because they are in opposition, and despite being in agreement with it, then he would be one of the first to criticise.
As stated by others (in other threads) the role of opposition is not to blanket oppose but to challenge when appropriate. In an ideal situation key policy decisions would be debated maturely and fully by all councillors, with assistance provided by experienced, and impartial, council officers. Theoretically A&B is in the ideal position to provide this model of local government because, at least in name, the administration is run by a group of independents. However in A&B theory and practice are ships that pass in the night – the alliance of independents have shown themselves time and time again, to be a political party with an internal whip just as much as any other political party. The impartiality, and independence, of the higher ranking council officers is also very much open to challenge as evidenced by the manner in which the administration repeatedly voted through appallingly drafted school closure proposals rather than sending them back for rework and challenging the officers to ‘do better’.
The bottom line is that it is essential to ensure there is appropriate democratic representation of communities in the council’s decision making process. For this to happen it is vital that the Council adopt a governance model which ensures there is an effective role for ALL councillors, not just those in ‘power’. It is due to this that there is a need to increases the effectiveness of the scrutiny role (and support for that scrutiny) played by those members in opposition. In terms of the support role I refer to the part played by Council officers and I would be interested in whether the current opposition councillors feel that this is appropriately provided by A&B. There should always be clarity within a Council about the rules and about council staff and the support they provide to the role of elected members. However rules are one thing (and easy to implement – I am 100% sure A&B will have all this in place) but attitude is another. It is the attitude which sets the culture and determines whether sufficient support is afforded to all councillors.
Getting back to the specific issue of agreeing the budget (leaving aside the obvious fact that the details of the budget are kept under lock and key to a ridiculously late hour) there also needed to be consideration of the role of an elected member. Yes they are elected as representatives of a ward but they also have to give consideration to the entire council area when it comes to decisions which have a council wide strategic impact. This can result in what might appear to be contradictory behaviour. It is the need to find a balance between advocating local policy an council wide policy that makes it even more important that budgets are prepared in an open and cooperative manner. We can only live in hope that one day A&B sees this happen.
Recent comments by Integrity? Not in the ConDemAll
- So who’s in the SNP Council Group today – and should they be?
I am not a fan of the multi member ward system. However whilst I would welcome it being abandoned I tend to think that is simply papering over the cracks. Local Government in Scotland needs a far more dramatic overhaul than that.
32 local authorities is a ridiculous number to have for a country with a population only just exceeding 5 million. There are over 1,200 councillors in Scotland with the geographical area for local authorities ranging from about 25 square miles to about 12,500 square miles! Similarly the population ranges from about 20,000 to well over half a million.
Cutting the number of councillors is going to make an insignificant impact to costs in the grand scheme of things. For example the total cost of councillors to A&B in 2013/14 made up about 0.7% of total employee costs. So yes there are some savings that could be made but they are not going to deliver radical savings or a material reinvestment in service delivery.
I would kick start a major overhaul of local government by reducing the number of councils in Scotland from 32 to maybe between 15 or 20. Once we have a more manageable number of local authorities then proper consideration can be given to devolving power to them, and reintroducing more fiscal control at a local level (which should begin with abandoning the council tax freeze and reversing the centralisation of policy making that is associated with the freeze). Councils should be given the appropriate levers to determine what is strategically best for their area, reflecting local needs, in terms of increasing or decreasing taxation (and not just council tax).
Having less councils wouldn’t totally rid us of the issue of some councils having relatively small populations compared to others (due to the geography of Scotland) but it would mean there is less power hoarded by the two big city councils. Hopefully this would result in more meaningful efforts at partnership working and shared services without the ‘little guys’ being muscled out by overpowering large councils.
It always seemed strange to me that Scotland was moving toward being an independent country at the same time as there being ongoing centralisation of power within Scotland itself. It is a contradiction in democratic will.
- When is Argyll and Bute going to publish its mini-count breakdown of the indy referendum vote here?
I can understand why some people would be interested in seeing a breakdown however I personally fail to see any great value in it. We don’t need to encourage further division, quite the opposite. It was a national vote where every vote carried equal weight, I think it’s better leaving it as a national result.
- Lifeline for wildlife – 5p per carrier bag in Scotland from today
I have no problem with this law. If anything I don’t think it is steep enough. I was amazed at the 80% statistic and find myself questioning it’s credibility as I wouldn’t expect 5p to be much of a deterrent. I would have preferred total removal of plastic bags and the adoption of something more in.line with French supermarkets.
- For Argyll challenge to candidates for Thursday’s Oban North & Lorn by-election
That’s right, never mind promoting the credentials of the candidate – as long as they have the same gender!
I don’t know Stephanie Irvine and am not for a second suggesting she is or isn’t a credible candidate. However I would wager if she is credible she would prefer for people to vote for her on the basis of what she can bring to the post rather than simply because of ‘women supporting women’
- General election television debates
Great more debates, just what we need, more mindless chest thumping my quips better than your quip, or fans of both camps claiming irrelevant victories.
I couldn’t care less about arguments over who should and shouldn’t be involved. I’d rather they were scrapped so money wasn’t wasted on a gruesome spectacle which serves no positive value and only paints UK politics in an ugly light.
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