Welcome to what we understand is the first live reporting from an Isle of Wight council meeting.
Following Simon’s trailer earlier …. notes are coming through thick and fast – it’s long, but worth a read if you’re interested in how your taxes are being spent.
IW Council meeting
17:56 – Two ladies of the press, supposed colleagues in journalism are unnecessarily quite rude, when they saunter into the council chamber, me having been in place since 17:45. One’s nose is put out of joint by me sitting in ‘her’ chair. [Update: Turns out they’re Charlotte Hofton and Suzanne Pert]. County Press clearly have friends.
18:03 – Prayers are said including a request to give guidance for those making difficult decisions, be they producing Praise or otherwise.
18:10 Various question from the public. A question asking if Joe Duckworth is a card carrying Conservative – in response large cries of condemnation from the assembled councillors.
18:13 – Female councillor stands up and asks on a point of order if it is right that Andy Sutton should be rude to the members of the public when they ask questions. He had just given a sarcastic response in answer to a question about “the council spending £50 million on mainland consultants.”
18:16 Item five. Joe Duckworth (JD) Unusual occassion. Statement to make to the council. Reports like this are rare, it shows its seriousness.
Finds – council acted unlawfully. 2005 council got legal advice to the same effect. After this little was done. £1.5m has been spent.
It is not a report about HPR or Undercliff Drive.
The council must act – and act urgently.
Lawyers have been procured to rectify the situation.
Report from Oct 2006 must need to be acted on too.
18:21 – Employment issues. Who heard about it and who didn’t act.
It appears that no re-tendering was carried out.
It’s important that no comments are made about the action or otherwise of any officer involved.
This is very serious.
Andy Sutton – not prepared to discuss this at all. Should accept recommendation and move on.
Proposed Membership of the Committee:
Cllr George Brown will be chair.
Cllr Tim Hunter-Henderson
Cllr Ivan Bulwer
Cllr Anne Bishop
Cllr Colin West
Cllr Muriel Miller
Cllr Henry Adams
Councillor Miller – I agree that it shouldn’t be discussed. We should wait for the committee’s response.
18:25—Questions from the floor.
Q: Will councillors also be included in the remit of the committee.
A: Committee will want to look at other things outside this report. Report is clear – there is no member involvement. I don’t want to pre-judge the outcome of the committee.
18:27 – IW residents
Not held in-camera – just normal rules of confidentiality. First meeting should set out a time scale, so people know what is going on. Rumours could arrive
Vote – Unanimous for the proposal. Chairman remains impartial.
Andrew Turner is sitting in the gallery – round of applause.
—–end of this section.
Andy Sutton – statement on the coming year. One Island.
What’s we’ve just heard gives us cause for pause. Frustrated by the situation of the Undercliff.
We must spend every penny of the tax payers money as if it were our own.
All of this is our duty – but clearly IW council has fallen short. Islanders deserve that it shouldn’t happen again. Gives a pledge to put it in order.
£300k in vested in change the organisation. Internal comms.
£500k in CTi & customer services. New director of customers services to be appointed.
Every move we make should be the best it can be.
It’s a e-technical age, and we should be using these opportunities.
Property – we have huge amount of money tied up in property. £400k additional funding to make our the best return for our assets and end the sale of council property sold for nothing.
East Cowes is a good recent example.
George Brown – thanks for his help in gaining maximum return from our assets.
Respect/Pride/Value – The three items of focus.
Get the balance right between planning and development.
£8m savings will be delivered this year.
£11m on new One Island policies.
Top priority – Our young people. The quality of education is the most vital aspect to get right. 2006 saw noticeable improvements.
Currently 139 out of 159 of GCSE results in the UK. This must change.
Will have 20 mph speed limits outside schools over the next 12 months.
Wellington Road, Newport
Pell Lane , Ryde
Luccombe Road, Shanklin
Free swimming for children for all school holidays.
£150k rising to £300k. Youth clubs to be open in School holidays too.
Council to offer jobs to youths
10 – apprenticeships
6 – graduate trainees.
Beginning of April – major library open 7 days week.
local – 5 day a week, if there’s a demand.
£100k /year on year for organisation and management for 2012 games. An additional £800k too.
18:54 – Buses for £1 has been a vast success.
£1m investment was put aside year on year by the council.
£1.50 rate will be standard – without the need for ask for council subsidy. £1m will go back in the budget.
April 2007 – increase of 9% on the Island on all car parks, for casual parking.
Islanders parking permit will remain the same.
If you use an environmental vehicle – free parking in all car parks for all
3 free charging points from Nov 2007.for electric cars and bikes.
Discussion to have a Kyoto type conference.
Use of bio-mass fuels by the council vehicles are also in discussion.
£800k to be spent on anti-skid coatings – reduce the number of crashes, primarily by the younger people on the Island.
£900k extra to be spent on speed monitoring signs and speeding reduction campaigns.
Fixed speed camera – April to Sept – speed awareness events rather than points on their license.
Community Speed Watch – local people monitoring the speeds of cars on their roads and reporting it to the police. The Broadway, Church Road, Shanklin, The Fairway.
_Pride in local communities
Need to pay for the refurbishment of local amenities, which will then be passed into the hands of the local council
Toilets – Cowes, Ryde, Sandown – completely refurbished by May this year (sal – no mention of Ventnor).
£1m to be spent on 7 toilets.
£50k for full time attendants in some of them.
This will continue year on year (a favorite phrase of tonight)
£750k – 11 new town centre managers. To ensure town is well looked after. In place by end of May.
£175k – for police community support officers.
New parking attendants starting 2 April
£500k announced last years in signs, etc.
£430k extra this years.
£300k to be spent on cleaning street furniture.
£500k on new Street Furniture – Bay Area, West Wight, East Cowes (“my birthday present”, East Cowes councillor)
Dog fouling – public disgust. Zero tolerance.
Roving enforcement from June (sal – hurrah – let’s hope they start in Ventnor)
£200k in this initiative.
Home Care provision – reshape WightCare –
Free in-home care for those over 80 (if they want it, of course)
£50k for cancer patients getting treatment in Portsmouth (fantastic news – at last).
__Fire & Rescue service
Decisions will be made next month, after public consultations service (you know the forms we all had recently)
£5.8m will continue to
Public response has been a healthy interest.
Very positive response from the public.
Residents want better comms with the council.
Extra £50k to make it monthly.
Thanks to the local media for being supportive (except, by some, to other journalists, perhaps!)
Broadcast media provide opportunities for the council to speak.
__What do external regulators
Officially improving well – Direction of Travel statement
The council has been through much change
“We’re improving because of the council workers”
One of the lowest in the UK for council tax
He’s teasing us now – by not telling us what the rate is now.
Tax increase of 42p per week for a band D property
1.89% increase. (much cheering)
End of statement.
(Standing ovation from many.)
19:52 – Geoff Lumley (Labour speaker)
Many Islanders have had enough of the approach of the current party in power, but it’s hard to battle against their vote catching approach.
Reserves being raided by the ruling party.
Dropped from £30.7m -> 15.5m
Budget proposal –
Money can be trimmed off – Unused PCSO match funding provision; Limit support to excellent parishes; reduce amount for completion of Island Plan.
Investments – Community Wardens (10); increase support for Civic Pride projects; Additional Empty Properties resources; Increase support for Youth Service; Increase capacity for CCTV monitoring.
Propose higher charges for higher emitting vehicles, lower for the lower emitting.
Labour propose an increase of 3.5% in Council Tax
The opposition should draw together and vote with us to support our proposed budget. “There’s a hope in hell for it going through.”
On to the debate of the budget –
Deputy leader – congrats to Labour … it’s the first time that I’ve heard an opposition budget – after I’ve heard nine budgets. Congratulations.
Liberal Democrat – “What’s going to happen when the money runs out – for the Tory budget.”
Andy Sutton – “The use of reserves. It’s a statutory reserve figure – they have not been touched.”
Votes for the amendment (Labour budget) 2 for (that’s all of Labour), 38 against, 3 abstentions.