Diary of a Sutton Councillor

Monday 12th May 7pm

COUNCIL

This meeting required the adoption of various strategy documents and had a referral by the opposition for debate by full council.

 

The referral concerned the decision by the Executive to bring forward funding from the Capital Replacement Programme to meet the exceptional costs uncovered during the remedial work to Sutton Library, and thereby avoid delays to the planned work at Cheam & Westcroft Leisure Centres.

 

The opposition were making the argument that the works should have been foreseen in an old building. This was rather odd as the reason for the remedial works programme was to deal with expected system deficiencies. It had also been identified that asbestos would be present in a building of this age and the Council had protocols for identification & removal of asbestos which had been commended by the Health & Safety Executive only last year.

 

What was unforeseen was the nature of the asbestos which could not be ascertained until a commissioned survey had been done, and only then can the associated costs of dealing with that asbestos be determined.

 

It was not until the asbestos problem had been dealt with that access to the ceiling voids was obtained to enable a full survey of the works required to the ventilation system. It was the first time since the library had been built that the systems had been looked at (because of the asbestos) so there was no way of knowing the actual state of the equipment. It turned out to require more work than anticipated. Now the deficiencies have been identified council policies require that the work is addressed immediately to protect the health & safety of staff & visitors to the building.

 

It fell to me to try to explain the asbestos issue in a one minute speech to Council!

 

Commitment-phobic Conservatives?

I found the opposition’s response to the strategies drawn up to

implement the Liberal Democrat’s vision for Sutton to be hypocritical. Despite the strategies’ integration with the budget setting process and specific targets Cllr. Scully claimed that there was no real substance to the plans. As the leader of an opposition that has failed to produce any action plans of their own, any budget nor any delivery targets I can’t believe he has the front to claim that we have no substance!

 

Having argued the various strategies in this way they then bizarrely abstained from voting for or against one of the plans, and then voted with us to pass unanimously another strategy.

 

The opposition appear to be afraid to commit to writing any policies or budget proposals. This is unsurprising as in my short experience on the council the Tories seem to be more concerned with courting popular causes in their pursuit of power, rather than showing any real desire to tackle the day to day problems of governance. The reality of running the council means that difficult decisions have to be made which, whilst in the interests of the majority, may adversely affect others, and taking the flack for that. Populist politics don’t work in practice, however while they refuse to set down their plans so that residents can scrutinise them, they can make what claims they like without being held accountable for them.

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May 19, 2008 - Posted by | Committee Meeting

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