Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Motions to Council/ Agenda length and paper trail

I include below the next paragraph motions submitted to Merton Full Council on 29th November which includes a motion from the Tories about the proposed changes to the Mayor of London powers. The Labour group have submitted three motions on the Housing letter and two relating to the Budget process.

Currently the agenda is at 258 pages and this will no doubt grow by the Council meeting. I do wonder sometimes why we do not go more environmentally friendly and have the main body of papers sent by e-mail and are able then to access laptops in the chamber/committee rooms(with wi-fi access), it would certainly save a lot of trees and cut the amount of paper that will end of up in a recycling bin and believe me Merton Council creates a huge paper mountain. It might even save the Council a few quid though no doubt some of my colleagues would be up in arms, only a thought but after 4 1/2 years as a councillor the paper mountain is thing I hate most about being a councillor.
The link to the Council agenda is below.

Signed by Councillors David Williams, Diane Neil Mills, Debbie Shears and
Samantha George
“This Council believes that the Government’s proposals to grant the Mayor of London
greater powers will undermine the authority of London’s boroughs and damage local
democracy in London by taking decision-making away from local communities and their
locally-elected representatives.
“This Council further believes that the Government’s proposals giving the Mayor
greater powers over planning and housing will erode the role of boroughs’ planning and
development control committees in making decisions about what is built locally, will
reduce the extent to which local people can influence what is built in their own
neighbourhoods, and will see planning decisions imposed on communities by the
Mayor of London.

“This Council resolves to:
(a) make representations about its concerns and opposition to the Government’sR>proposal to grant further powers to the Mayor in the formal consultation process;
(b) write to the local MPs and GLA member to ask them to raise these concerns in
Parliament and at the London Assembly; and
(c) work with the other London Boroughs through London Councils in lobbying against
these proposals.”

Signed by Councillors Andrew Judge, Mark Allison and Martin Whelton
“This Council regrets that the letter sent to housing tenants entitled 'The future of the
Council’s housing stock', ostensibly to warn tenants that the matter was to be
reconsidered, also argued the case in favour housing stock transfer:

(i) in apparent contradiction of a Cabinet decision of 13th June 2005;
(ii) before the issue had been discussed in Cabinet or Scrutiny; and
(iii) purported to present a 'Council' view on the issue of housing stock transfer.

The effect of this letter has been to pre-empt the proper involvement of scrutiny and
place ward councillors in a difficult position.
This Council expresses its concern at the approach taken and states its determination
not to allow such pre-emption in future.R>

Signed by Councillors Mark Allison, Andrew Judge and Martin Whelton

“This Council believes that it is key to the democratic process in Merton that the
Business Plan and Budget processes recognise the political will of the people of
This Council also notes that as a No Overall Control authority, it is unlikely to pass a
Budget or Business Plan without the consent of at least two political parties; and
agrees that the democratic will of the people was that at least two political parties
should be key drivers for the Budget and Business Plan.
This Council notes that Cabinet has approved papers on the Budget and Business Plan
stating that:
"8.1 There are a number of key drivers which will influence and shape the development
of the Council’s new Business Plan. These are:-
"Putting You First” - the Administration’s manifesto objectives;
.... "
This Council notes that no other party's policy objectives are recognised as having
been key drivers in this process.
This Council instructs Officers to formally recognise that an additional key driver to the
Business Plan and the Budget must be the policy objectives of at least one other
political party. In the first place, this will be the Merton Park Ward Independent
Residents Party, with whose consent the Administration was formed.

This Council instructs Chief Officers and DMTs to go through the Business Plan and
the Budget with a representative of at least one other political party to ensure that their
manifesto adequately influences the final outcome. In the first place, this will be the
Merton Park Ward Independent Residents Party.
This Council further agrees to there being a report back at its next meeting from a
representative of the Merton Park Ward Independent Residents Party on how
satisfactorily their views have been incorporated in the Business Plan and the Budget.”

Signed by Councillors Mark Allison, Linda Kirby and Martin Whelton

“This Council notes that its current Budget was agreed following a democratic process
lasting several months, and was only approved at a full Council meeting dedicated
wholly to a debate on the Budget.

This Council takes pride in its adherence to democratic principles, and believes that a
whole year's Budget, with any proposed amendments, should be considered at a
meeting of all Members.

This Council recognises there is a distinction between management action to ensure a
Budget is balanced, and amendments to Budget that result from a change in policy.

This Council notes that the current Administration wishes to bring forward several items
from the 2007/8 Budget to January 2007 in order to supersede the existing Budget, and
believes that this represents a change in the agreed Budget policy.

This Council believes that any attempt to amend Budget policy early should go through
the same rigorous democratic procedure as any Budget would have gone through.
This Council believes that the proposals to amend the 2006/7 Budget in order to bring
in items from the 2007/8 Budget early reflect a change in Budget policy, and are not
simply management action.

This Council therefore agrees that if any Budget policy changes are to be made, they
must go through an agreed democratic process, including a full Council meeting
dedicated wholly to a debate on those policy changes.”


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