Monday, November 13, 2006

Regeneration and Public Realm Panel report

My sources on the Regeneration and Public Realm have advised me that it was another interesting meeting last Thursday. The main issue was the proposed stock transfer ballot and the recent controversial letter that basically inferred that the Council supports this option and blamed the Labour government for the lack of money.

At the meeting Tory councillor Cllr Marc Hanson justified the letter on the grounds that we would have gone to the press about the matter and the letter was an attempt to pre-empt our move. Well in response to that point, the Labour group is listening closely on the matter and is having a consultation with residents and of course if the letter had been a neutral letter instead of heavily biased we would have had less to attack them on. To be perfectly honest the letter was not particularly good PR given the cynicism that many Council tenants have about the Council and their motives behind stock transfer(justified given the record of Diane Neil-Mills).

Another interesting comment came from Cllr Diane Neil-Mills who seems to be no stranger to controversy given her first six months on Merton Council. Her message to Labour members on the issues was "you do agree, don't you type response" inferring that we are in favour of stock transfer as we had a ballot under the previous administration. Well the answer to that is no, all options do need to be considered. This will be a major decision for the Council and it is important that listening to residents plays a crucial role in all of this.

The most interesting moment of the night was when Merton Park Resident Councillor Krysia Williams attacked the minority Tory administration on the letter and how it had gone out without any consultation with the relevant bodies. At least with Krysia she was saying it from a neutral perspective, while we can be attacked by the Tories the same cannot be said of the residents who do carefully consider the issues and are not in our pocket. Given the delicate balance on Merton Council with the administration consisting of 30 councillors against the opposition of 30 councillors, you would think they would be trying to win their support given their precarious position on the Council and that they hold the balance of power.

Another point noted is that Cabinet member Tariq Ahmad failed to show up at the meeting again, he seems to have gone missing of late, another Parliamentary selection must be in the offing. Given the poor media coverage recently on the his decision to abandon moving to wheelie bins in Merton despite large public support, it is probably not suprising that he is keeping a low profile. I also noticed that he is to get a pay rise in his position as Deputy Chair of the Transport and Environment Committee and he will be getting an extra £5,000 a year on top of his Merton allowance of £16,000 a year. Shortly I will also be publishing a record of the Tory administration first six months measured against their manifesto and it will make very interesting reading espcially in relation to Tariq's portfolio of Environment and Street Management. I have also been closely looking at the budget proposals especially in relation to Environment and Street Management more of which is to come shortly.


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