Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Merton Overview and Scruitny Commission

On Monday night we had the Overview and Scrutiny Commission meeting on the Budget. At the meeting a resolution was passed that the Cabinet "note the comments of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission" was passed on the casting vote of the Chair Cllr Peter Southgate of the Merton Park Independents. Cllr Rod Scott of the Tories moved a motion "That we support the administration budget in full" was defeated on the casting vote, at the meeting he sought to justify the motion on the basis that we should all support what the administration is trying to do. Well while it is true for you Rod(and I would suspect nothing less) is not true for the Labour group of 27 who were certainly not elected to support cuts to the vulnerable like at Bond Road and on SEN in the borough. With the Merton Park Resident, 30 councillors were also not elected to support Conservative policies on the Council.

The budget will now go to Cabinet later this month and it could still be changed by Full Council on 7th March given that the minority Conservative administration could be outvoted by Labour and the Merton Park Independents.

In terms of the pay rise for staff, when asked Merton would implement a rise above 2.5% for staff if recommended in national pay negotiations, Cllr Sam George refused to answer referring the question to the Director of Corporate Service Mike Parsons. Also the budget for single status is less then the private figure given to The Way We Work Panel, implementation of single status is still an ongoing debate within the Council and negotiations with the unions are still on-going.

Finally the issue of affordable housing was raised and the recent commission decision on referring back the Merton Road and Ravensbury Garages site. When I asked a question on when the St Catherine's site proposal would come forward Cllr Sam George muttered "in due course". Unlike the other two schemes it is not owned by the Council. It seems that it will be just another application with an affordable housing element, it is certainly not a replacement for the two abandoned schemes.


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