Wednesday, 26 May 2010

First council meeting

Last night I had my first council meeting -- the AGM. In the whole scheme of things it was a fairly simple straightforward meeting. The new Mayor was elected Gul Khan (Labour), the new deputy was elected Jenny Rynn (Conservative) and I was happy to support both candidates, neither of which was opposed, for these figurehead positions.

The real business of the meeting was electing the leader of the council and Cabinet. As had been in the papers for the last week or so the Lib Dems and Conservatives went into coalition. The main focus of their agenda -- introducing cuts to public services to save money -- will have a massive negative impact on many of my constituents directly, and society indirectly. Opposing cuts to public services was also a central plank of the Green Party manifesto. I therefore voted against the Con-Dem leader and Cabinet.

The rest of the meeting centred around setting up the various committees. It deteriorated into Punch and Judy politics at one point with Labour trying to amend a motion in favour of "openness" but forgetting to be open in building any support for this amendment before the meeting -- they hadn't talked to any of the other councillors -- meaning it fell. I'm sure it will be spun in the local papers though.

The Green Party was allocated two committee positions. I chose to be on the Corporate, Community and External Affairs scrutiny panel -- Shadow Cabinet -- and the Community Care, Health and Housing scrutiny panel. I wanted to continue to break out of the green stereotype that the other parties love to paint -- only interested in hugging trees and saving whales. I also think that Community Care will be in the spotlight over the coming years as it faces the Con-Dem axe and I want to be well-placed to fight these cuts to essential public services which will surely hit the weakest and most vulnerable hardest.

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