"FULL COUNCIL MEETING – FIVE-AND-A-HALF HOURS TO ACHIEVE WHAT?
Yesterday Bradford Council met. All ninety of us gathered to, in theory, make decisions about the things that matter to the residents or Bradford. So what did we do?
The first part of the meeting was fine. We received five petitions asking for the Council to act on various matters and these were referred to committees for further consideration. We asked questions of the leader and received financial and corporate planning documents. From a four pm start we’d concluded this process by about ten to six.
The meeting however finished over three hours later during which time we:
1. Agreed to write letters to the Home Secretary, the Education Secretary, and the Boundary Commission. In the last case the letter concerns issues not within the remit of the commission as it simply criticises the criteria given to that Commission by Parliament and Government.
2. Rejected proposals to recognise and support e-cigarettes as an effective smoking cessation method that is used by 20-30,000 Bradfordians
3. Turned down taking positive action against dangerous and anti-social driving
4. Had an hour long debate about education that resolved nothing at all (except that a majority of Councillors don’t agree with grammar schools)
5. Voted down the opportunity for the Executive to lead on Bradford Council’s response to the flooding in December 2015. Instead Council decided it was fine for an update to go to a scrutiny committee in six months time
6. Agreed the salary packages of two senior officers
We spent a whole evening failing to act on things that actually matter to the Bradford public like dangerous driving, smoking deaths and flooding. Instead the Controlling Labour group preferred to spend time debating a 1984 mass picket in South Yorkshire, moaning about national education policy, and moralising about refugees.
It is difficult to justify keeping Councillors in the meeting for hours when all we do is pass motions instructing the Chief Executive to write letters to people. Yet this is all the current Labour leadership seem to want to do. This year we’ve written letters to a host of government ministers all of which are carefully crafted by officers and all of which receive carefully word answers that change nothing.
But when it comes to taking real action – doing things as a Council – the Labour leadership consistently vote down proposals. As a result, the Council is clear that it isn’t interested in reducing the harm from smoking, developing a more active road safety strategy and treating the risk of flood as a priority."