Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Merton cabinet meeting

The Merton Cabinet meeting last night was generally a mundane affair with not too much political excitement to talk about. As part of the Neighbourhood Governance taskforce I presented the findinsg of our scrutiny report to Cabinet where the matter will be considered further, generally they seemed to be quite reciprocal to the report but time will tell what their response will be to the report.

In terms of the other matters discussed, the controversial area of selling of Housing land was on the agenda again, this include an authorisation to sell a site on Mitcham Park which had been earmarked for affordable housing for supported people. On taking office last year these plans were abandoned and following the failure of Merton Council to indicate what they wished to do with the site the Department of Communities and Local Government have ordered the Council to dispose of the site and sell it at auction. A number of other sites were also authorised for sale with the revenue used for housing and regeneration projects though judging by the plans to date very few affordable housing schemes are coming forward.

The forthcoming budget was also discussed at the meeting with Merton Council with them aiming for savings of £14million on a worst-case scenario. This will be if grant-formula is frozen(ie no increase from the government) and a zero per cent council tax. This level of council savings is likely to have a huge impact on Council Services and it was stated at the meeting by Council leader David Williams "That we need to look at whether the Council provides certain services that are not statutory". The first figures for the Budget will be presented next month and will then go into the scrutiny process. David Williams also stated "that money was being sent up north because it's where all their backbenchers are", this is trying to assume that the Government is bankrolling the north instead of London, the issue of local government funding is a difficult one and it's important that London's case is put on a bi-partisan basis to Government(which has happened through the umbrella body London Councils). The forthcoming spending round will be probably be challenging for Government but the issue of local government finance is extremely complex but cheap jibes like this from David Williams do not help.

Another of their latest campaigns is also the forthcoming launch of 'Mission for Merton', this is an initiative they have decided to embark on 18 months after taking over the running of Merton Council. This is meant to involve all ward councillors, cabinet members, senior offices and is a listening exercise to hear the views of local people on the role of the Council along with tailoring services to users needs. Whilst I personally welcome engagement, I question whether anything meaningful will come out of the exercise or it's just another PR stunt. Certainly whilst their Tories may have some understanding of the west of the Borough (ie Wimbledon) given their complete lack of representation in the east (ie Mitcham area)
it's hardly surprising that they want to build up links. Time will tell whether anything useful comes out of the initiative or is another PR gimmick.

Finally, the Cabinet agreed to set up a Joint Waste disposal committee with Kingston, Croydon and Sutton. With issues like landfill being an issue this is something we welcome though the Council's failure to increase re-cycling rates over the last year will inevitably lead to increased costs for the Council given the forthcoming rise in landfill tax. Also, the other three authorities do have wheelie bins whilst Merton does not, while I believe the joint waste committee will produce savings if we are looking at close working with other councils inevitably the Council should be considering wheelie bins as it's something the public support in Merton and this has been demonstrated by surveys.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"cheap jibes like this from David Williams do not help". Wow - and this from the author of an incredibly insulting and potentially libelous post about David Williams..remember the URAPRAT comment and the hasty removal of the post? (it still exists in the archives). Your hypocriical sanctimonious attitude says so much about you

4:51 am  

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