Posted by: iangilbert | March 2, 2012

A tired old Tory trick

Some people are going to try to make something of the fact that there was no vote on last night’s budget.

For the record, I cried ‘No’ when the Mayor asked council whether we agreed the relevant budget minutes. Whether a vote needs to be taken is, I believe at the discretion of the Mayor, most of the business at full council is purely procedural and nodded through. Given that not a single other opposition party said ‘no’  and several Lib Dems and one Independent having made in favour of the budget the Mayor did not need to call a vote. I suppose I could have symbolically recorded my opposition, but at the end of the day the opposition of just three Labour councillors out of the fifty councillors in the chamber this was never going to be anything more than a token protest.

It is a tired old Tory trick. Keep every leaver of power in the Civic Centre to yourself in the most ruthless way, and then when difficult decisions have to made, blame the opposition for not engaging. It’s actually highly unusual for a a group with a bare majority to not only keep all the cabinet posts, but also keep all the scrutiny and regulatory committee chairs and vice-chairs to themselves as well.

The council was previously criticised by the Audit Commission for not involving opposition councillors, so the administration created ‘member champion’ posts for various subject areas, many of which went to opposition councillors. I was briefly, I think, the only opposition councillor to chair a subgroup of the LSP (The Positive Activities Forum set up to promote activities for young people as part of the Children’s Partnership).

Strangely enough, once the Audit Commission inspection regime was ended the Conservatives felt that they didn’t really want the involvement of opposition councillors after all. This is the mentality that we have to deal with.



  1. Ian

    I think claiming Labour was the only one against this is simply not true. I spoke out against the cuts to the meals on wheels provision and made it clear that I was not in favour of this budget. I’m surprised you didn’t blame the Mayor but of course its all about Pary loyalty.


  2. There was clearly at least one Independent who was in favour of the budget, and a number of Lib Dems made supportive comments, so I think it fair to claim that the Labour group was the only group united in opposition.

    At the end of the day it’s of little more than academic interest. The Conservatives have a majority which they use ruthlessly and they set the direction of the council all year round.

  3. Ian

    independent means being independent so you shouldn’t be surprised.

    Yes the Conservatives have the majority so maybe it is time the opposition groups put aside their differences and started working towards getting them out. You might have forgotten but I remember you once told me that it didn’t matter whether a Labour or an Independent candidate won in Shoebury as long as it wasn’t a Tory.


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