Thursday 23 December 2010

Personality clashes in politics shock!

It amazes me the fuss that is being made of the fact that certain Lib Dems in Government don't like certain Conservative Ministers.  Shall I let you into a secret?  There are some Conservatives in Government who also don't like certain Conservative Ministers.  It is the nature of politics, healthy debates happens when there is a conflict of ideology, different interpretations of events and different perspectives; the debate and disagreement that comes from this is a healthy part of the system.   Within a Cabinet, accepting that these disagreements and dislikes happen and accepting that, as long as you have had your say and have contributed to the debate, means that you should abide by the principles of collective decision-making and collective responsibility.  It is an integral part of being effective in a position of political power.  This is as true of Cabinet systems at local level as as it is Nationally.  There is not a single Cabinet worth its salt that does not have strong debate at its heart.

What is at issue with the latest revelations from Lib Dem Ministers is the damage caused by the total lack of respect for collective responsibility.  The indiscretions which are, in part, about securing personal standings at a time when Ministers are faced with tough decisions because of the failings of the previous Government, actually does those individuals more damage in the long term IMHO.

What fascinates me even more is is these indiscretions come from senior members of a political party that has tried to further its own ends by claiming that our system would be better if it was largely led by coalition Governments (because that IS the only outcome of election through proportional representation) and yet seems to be hell bent on proving that they do not have the will or the ability to work within a coalition.

The Lib Dems need to grow up fast.

Monday 13 December 2010

Bassenhally/Feldale Fields Planning Application - Again

Yet another planning application has been submitted for 460 homes plus Care Home etc. for Bassenhally Field.

The files are not yet on line, but it appears to be an identical application which must mean that the developer has submitted it expecting a refusal so he can take it to appeal. (because the time for appeal has passed for the previous application).

I can't think of any reason this could have been submitted other than this - once again there has been no prior discussion with officers at Fenland about it.

I have rejuvenated the previous Facebook page on this which can be found here.

The Planning application (Ref F/YR10/0904/O) is here

Please join and please, please write to Fenland Planning Department with your views.  This is too important and too large to ignore.  The address is:

Development control, 
Fenland District Council
Fenland Hall, 
County Road, 
March, PE15 8NQ

Splits in Cambridgeshire Lib Dems

More evidence of Cambridgeshire Lib Dems being split comes in this article:

I know for a fact that this view is not supported by all of Cllr Gymer's colleagues because I know what they have said to me.

You will note that there is no alternative to tuition fees suggested - and this seems to be Cambs Lib Dems approach to any difficult decision; total denial of reality.

Cllr Gymer, is of course the same person I had to remind at the last County Council meeting to be wary of the sort of public comments she makes about our young people after some quite scurrilous suggestions of what they would all be up to because of what is happening over Youth Services.   I had to remind her that the vast majority of the young people in this county are an asset to us.  Steve Tierney covered this exchange in his blog.

Wednesday 8 December 2010

Passing of Cllr John West

I have just got back from a training course to read of the sad passing of Cllr John West.

I served with John on two Councils, on both he had a reputation for being both a character and a straight-talker.

My deepest sympathies to his family.

Tuesday 7 December 2010

What did I learn from today? Nothing has changed.

We had our Full Council meeting at the County Council yesterday.   It came as we approach one of the most difficult periods we have faced in recent times because of the serious cuts in funding we face.

So what did I learn?  Just that nothing has changed.  Our Labour Group Leader remains in total denial and, more importantly, our main opposition, the Lib Dems, seem to be carrying on with their "heads in the sand" approach to tough decisions - despite belonging to a political party that is sharing Government and therefore should have a better understanding of where we are.

We have a long budget process in Cambridgeshire, to summarise it involves a cycle of increasingly adding detail as more information becomes available.  It is sort of an evaluate, challenge, evaluate, challenge process.  But before the final decision (which is made in Jan/Feb every year) we always get a small period of fiction.  That fiction is the Lib Dems alternative budget.  Every year they produce it and every year it shows a misunderstanding of a number of issues - one in particular is the approach we take to reserves, where they try and pretend that we have far too much stashed away (despite the Audit Commission saying otherwise), and take money out of reserves as the solution to all our problems.  But when their budget is evaluated (it has been through our scrutiny process the last two years) it is proven to be unworkable.

Based on what I saw today we are headed for the same piece of fiction.  I got lots of challenge about the IYSS process that is seeing cuts to County Council funding of Youth and Connexions Services.  I have posted about that before.  I don't mind that challenge and I also know that a number of Councillors, including some of the more responsible Lib Dems, are doing the same sort of work as we are in Whittlesey to try and mitigate the impacts of the County Council's decisions, but in truth none of the senior opposition members offered up any sort of alternative to what we are having to do - just saying we shouldn't do this.  It says to me that they haven't learned anything about their failures of the past, or from the opportunities that being a party with a handle on National power provides.