Sunday, September 10, 2006

Nothing to discuss you say?

For those unaware, Greenwich Council operates a Cabinet system of local government. In that system one councillor each year is inaugurated as the Mayor and should be chosen from across the political spectrum. The Mayor's role, whilst ceremonial, is also non-political and embodies the concept of impartiality. Well, that's what's supposed to happen but this is Greenwich.

A good example of the problem as come to light in the last week where the Mayor, Cllr Harry Singh, has cancelled the full Council Meeting for September after, what looks like, a private discussion with the political leadership of the Council. We're not sure what's worse really, that the Mayor's Office is utterly compromised by politics, or that the Council has decided that they don't need to meet and discuss any issues.

For anyone wondering, the next time the Council will meet in the Chamber, according to the schedule, is on the 29th November. The last full Council meeting was the 26th July. When that happens it unlikely there will be another meeting during 2006 which will take the total meetings for the year to, by our reckoning, five. Apparently the justification for this is that there is nothing to talk about!

What they actually mean is that there's too much to talk about, and most of it's not good. If they cancel the meeting then they close down discussion of awkward issues of the past two months. For example, we have the utter failure of the IT systems; we have the rather minor worries surrounding the casino bid; calls from Parliament for a Standards Inquiry into the Council by the LGA; there's the incredibly poor performance of Council pensions; the dramatic failure to hit rent arrears targets, not to mention a serious failure to register interests.

We wonder if we can withhold a percentage of our Council Tax on the basis that if there's no Council business they don't need the money? No, we didn't think so.

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Blogger The Last Boy Scout said...

That us all not forget that for the last few meeting there have been lots of awkward questions for Chris Roberts, from a number of organisations, about usage of the public hall aswell.

8:03 am  
Blogger Indigo said...

I think that the Council should meet if only to discuss being open and honest for once with Council Tax payers about casinos and crime. Eg

Supercasinos increase all crimes - burglary, robbery, car-theft, aggravated assault, drug and sex offences - except murder.

Crime-inducing and crime-mitigating effects offset each other shortly after opening, but after about a year the crime-raising effects dominate, and crime increases in subsequent years.

This is not crime displaced from neighbouring areas/boroughs, it is casino-related crime.

Naturally, the crime rate impacts badly on property values and inward investment. That should interest all the developers currently building or applying to build in Greenwich.

This information is all over the web but the Government is not telling us, and Greenwich Council is not telling us. Perhaps I should write to all the developers - Capital and Counties, Galliard Homes ...

8:09 pm  
Blogger Mark Pattenden said...

Unfortunately this isn't new. Labour have cancelled a number of meetings over the last few years because there was nothing to discuss (incidentally I understand that the Lib Dems and the Tories have objected to the recent cancellations, but it will do no good whatsoever). The most recent one they cancelled was last December when the only item on the agenda was a potential bid for a casino. When I objected (I was Lib Dem group whip at the time) I was told that it wasn't worth wasting everyone's time over and I could have a copy of the report if I wanted, after it had been submitted to DCMS. Plus ca change...

8:24 am  
Anonymous lowestoftjohn said...

Less is more, it would seem. When I worked for the council, the cabal in charge even pushed for having only four scrutiny meetings a year in order to "save money on paper" by not printing agendas etc. This was rightly dismissed out of hand but it would have went ahead if Roberts could have got away with it.

It's an indictment on how abysmal the opposition in Greenwich are, both within and outside the Labour Party, that a bunch of charmless and incompetent freaks like that have been allowed to get away with their cynical exploits for so long.

10:08 am  
Anonymous Paul Webbewood said...

This is a very poor decision by Harpinder Singh. Under the Council's constitution his duties include:

* to ensure that the Council meeting is a forum for the debate of matters of concern to the local community and the place at which members who are not on the Cabinet are able to hold the Cabinet to account

* to promote public involvement in the Council's activities.

It is difficult to do this if he allows four months to pass between meetings.

4:52 pm  
Blogger Indigo said...

Well done to the Mercury for reporting this (13 September 2003 edition): Fury as Mayor cancels Town Hall talk forum

I am amazed at (a) the Mayor's incredible discourtesy in failing to consult any but the Labour Group about his decision to cancel this month's Council meeting; and at (b) the attitude of the anonymous Council spokesperson quoted - she appears not to understand that however many other types of meeting there are they are not *substitutes* for full Council meetings.

Tell the Mercury what you think of this, by writing to The Mercury, 2-4 Leigham Court Road, Streatham SW16 2PD or e-mail

8:06 pm  
Blogger Indigo said...

Duh - 13 September 2006 edition of the Mercury (not 2003).

9:51 pm  

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