It has been announced that the County Council will shrink the size of the Cabinet by getting rid of 2 roles! As in many things with these Tory City and County Councils, if this could have been done before, why has it taken until now?
On the face of it, yes it sounds like a very good stunt to show that “we are all in it together” but is that really the case? Yes we will not be spending the Councillor allowance that is afforded to Cabinet members which is a few thousand, but I see a bigger problem. What we are losing here is representation and accountability. These are not “employed staff” of the council, but our elected representatives. What it really means is that they bredth of representation of you and I in the cabinet has shrunk, therefore making them even less accountable than they are at the moment.
Alongside that, lets look at just who has been dropped. Cllr Stan Waddington, the Highways and waste man. Yep, the genius who has left our roads in such a shocking state, and is responsible for the Green bin tax and our impending incinerator! Is that a tacit admission from Mark Hawthorne that he got it wrong, and by getting rid of “Stan the Man” he can hide some of the most unpopular policies of the Council in one swift chop. Cllr David Thorpe was the Cabinet member for Change, in essence the blueprint for the cuts. Does this show that the “consultation” was a complete farce, or is that now job done? Finally there is Tony Hicks, who was in charge of Adult Social Care, I guess that shows the feeling of importance for that position.
There is no mention of the Library representation, which Cllr Noble was responsible for, except to say that she is now responsible for people who need long term support. I guess after they have slashed the Library service so badly, it won’t take as much looking after now!
An interesting position is that of Andrew Gravells, he is both a city and County Councillor, and in both he has been looking after Health. There are examples of other Councillors having seats on both City and county, and to see the Conservatives taking advantage of connecting the two together, does this mean they too see some advantage in a Unitary Council approach to save money?
Overall, I think we as the tax paying public lose out again. We save less than £60k (when we need to save £114m) and lose more accountability and representation on the County Council Cabinet. This is just the time when we need the Elected Officials from our areas having as much view and communicating with their communities and it is being stripped away.