Wiltshire County Council: committee meeting. Sample containing about 19650 words speech recorded in public context

11 speakers recorded by respondent number C529

PS45P X m (Cole, age unknown, no further information provided) unspecified
PS45R X m (No name, age unknown, no further information provided) unspecified
PS45S X m (Coleman, age unknown, no further information provided) unspecified
PS45T X m (Small, age unknown, no further information provided) unspecified
PS45U X m (Chalk, age unknown, no further information provided) unspecified
PS45V X m (Pager, age unknown, no further information provided) unspecified
PS45W X m (Okinson, age unknown, no further information provided) unspecified
PS45X X m (Caplan, age unknown, no further information provided) unspecified
PS45Y X m (No name, age unknown, no further information provided) unspecified
JJGPSUNK (respondent W0000) X u (Unknown speaker, age unknown) other
JJGPSUGP (respondent W000M) X u (Group of unknown speakers, age unknown) other

1 recordings

  1. Tape 112501 recorded on 1994-01-25. LocationWiltshire: Trowbridge ( Council chamber ) Activity: committee meeting debate

Undivided text

Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [1] My name is Les , I work for Wiltshire County Council.
[2] What follows is a meeting of the Wiltshire County Council's Policy and Resources Committee held on Tuesday twenty-fifth January 1994.
Cole (PS45P) [3] [...] on the agenda is membership changes.
[4] Since the last meeting the following have ceased to be members of this committee.
[5] Mr , Mr , Mrs , Mr , Mr , and have been replaced by Mr , Mr , Mrs , Mr , Mrs .
[6] Membership of the committee today is therefore Mr , Mr , Mrs , Mr , Mr , Mrs , Miss , Miss , Mr , Mrs , Mr , Mrs , Mr , Mr , Mr , Colonel , Mrs , Mrs , Mr , Mr , Mr , Mr , Mrs , Mr , Mr .
[7] Second item on the agenda is election of chairman could I have nominations please .
(PS45R) [8] Mr
Cole (PS45P) [9] Is there a seconder for Mr ?
[10] Are there any other nominations?
[11] Mr is elected chairman [...]
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [...]
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [12] [whispering] yeah, look yeah, I'm just [...] yeah, yeah []
Coleman (PS45S) [13] The next item is the election of vice chairman ... erm, do you wish to defer this item?
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [...]
Coleman (PS45S) [14] anybody not?
[15] ... That is deferred.
[16] Next item is apologies
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [17] no apologies
Coleman (PS45S) [18] Item five chairman's announcement, there are two.
[19] Number one is British National Corpus, members will have received a letter from the chief executive enclosing details about the British National Corpus, the B N C have sought permission to tape the Wiltshire County Council's Committee meeting, and it was suggested to them and they have agreed to tape today's proceedings.
[20] I hope no member objects to the recordings, but if anyone does the recording will not take place.
[21] Is everyone agreeable to the recording of today's proceedings?
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [22] aye
Coleman (PS45S) [23] Are there any against?
[24] That is agreed.
[25] Second announcement is the Victoria county history exhibition, I wish to bring to members attention ... bring members attention to the Victoria county history exhibition currently taking place in the old county hall foyer.
[26] I hope members will find time to visit this exhibition which is on today, tomorrow and Thursday.
[27] Item six attendance of non- members of the committee.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [28] Mr in respect of item seventeen the environmental strategy
Coleman (PS45S) [29] Thank you.
[30] ... Item seven, members allowances, cash limits.
[31] ... erm I'll like to deal with this in a if possible in a number of separate motions so that we can deal with the various bits of work that need to be done, but I'll call Mr first
Small (PS45T) [32] Thank you chair, erm, in likelihood that I, I mean you may wish to these separately as well but I'll [...] group wish to see, is to, a is to approve an extension of the maximum aggregate by five per cent, b officers continue to monitor expenditure reporting to group leaders monthly and c officers and group leaders look into the allowance scheme to see if any suitable alterations need to be made.
Coleman (PS45S) [33] Yes, erm, I had in mind that, is there a seconder to that? ... my own view is that erm, and that goes for most of the way for dealing with the problem, but I think it would be appropriate for this committee to make it clear that erm, any extension of the maximum aggregate for the current financial year will be met by an appropriate reduction or a corresponding reduction in the expenditure for ninety four ninety five, erm and I'm not certain that that's absolutely clear to the public or indeed to all members of
Small (PS45T) [34] Chair
Coleman (PS45S) [35] [...] as you say it is legally required
Small (PS45T) [36] I mean if, if, if, if the principal of the five per cent is acceptable then if you wish to qualify the [...] being put in [...] from the words you said then that is acceptable by the labour group.
Coleman (PS45S) [37] Okay, but I just wanted to go on to say that I think in reviewing how the budget may be brought more closely under control in the coming year, officers will need to look at the erm size of the committees because we are working with committees at the moment that are larger than those committees which used to exist when this year's budget was set and that has had some impact and we need to have the implications of any change of committee size whether that might affect the budget, how that would affect the budget, also whether there is any potential for reducing the number of committees further and also whether the rates might be changed, I particularly would like officers to report on what, whether there would be any significant saving from er setting the rates at the round figures they were at a couple of years ago erm [...]
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [cough]
Coleman (PS45S) [38] Ten pound and twenty pound and twenty-five pound which apart from anything else I found easier to remember when filling out a form, but I think that [...] may think it's not worth doing.
[39] I think the most important thing is to make clear, I'm hoping to make clear somewhere that next year this council will have a members allowance budget which is one and a half percent more than this year, at the maximum, and it may not even have that I'm not certain that we've agreed that with the policy committee, I don't know if anybody knows if we have
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [40] Yes
Coleman (PS45S) [41] We have, well I would erm, let's see how do we do this, we've got a motion on the floor, erm, anybody else?
[42] Mr
Chalk (PS45U) [43] Chairman I have an amendment to that motion, because, because I believe it's important that we start to identify [...] a lot of councils publish at the end of the year for public consumption a list of the allowances drawn by members, and I think that would be very useful and I would make, as an amendment, I would, would add to the proposal put by Mr that we call for a report to be pu er, to be presented to us of the amounts of allowances drawn by members, each member
Coleman (PS45S) [44] [...] would you accept that, that should be for the financial year [...] ?
Chalk (PS45U) [45] More than happy chairman that, that, that it should be that
Coleman (PS45S) [...]
Chalk (PS45U) [46] Can I, can I, If I, If there's a second [...] can I
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [...]
Chalk (PS45U) [47] speak to my [...]
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [...]
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [48] I view with considerable concern erm, what has happened since May, in, in the field of allowances.
[49] Over the last few years the members allowances have been reduced, er, er have been underspent quite considerably on the amount that's been allowed.
[50] Each year the amount has gone up by inflation, and yet we see something approaching thirty thousand underspent on previous years, and here we are looking in the first year of this council to a, a, at least a five percent overspend and er, I wonder if we've erm, excluded the time when there weren't many meetings at the beginning if we wouldn't have seen a considerably larger overspend.
[51] I'm, in my own mind, I'm sure this is due to a proliferation of working parties, extra committee meetings a ,a , and seminars, and I personally think it's typical of when your party get anywhere near control that there is always more talking and less action, but I do believe that we ,we , we're, we are not looking good in the eyes of the public in this overspending of our own allowances.
[52] I think you've got to do something drastic, at the end of last year a considerable number of working parties and committees were actually reduced or eliminated, and I look at education and I look at the sub- committees of education, they've all been replaced by working parties now that meet more and more regularly.
[53] We can't go on paying ourselves that sort of money, we can't go on, and Mr I know in a minute we'll talk about the number of people who attend committee meetings erm and sit in on them, and that's increased considerably, erm, so I think it's important that we do get down to this problem, we grasp the nettle, and I, I believe that will mean that we start to look seriously at reducing the number of times members come and talk here, and perhaps we let the officers get on with the action that they should be getting on with
Coleman (PS45S) [...]
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [54] Thank you chairman, erm, I've heard what Mr said then I think it is worth reminding ourselves that a significant number of members of this council are new to this council and it's therefore quite right and proper that in the first year of the business of this council that there should be a significant number of seminars and briefings to enable members to fully acquaint themselves with the business of the council the working of the er, operations of this council so that we can in fact make informed decisions er in the future.
[55] I entirely accept that if er, four years on we were still doing the same thing that then they'd be er, some erm, requirement for er, cutting back but I think it is also worth reminding ourselves that due to the action of this conservative government in er, forcing the local government review, er, we are facing the spectre er, of an additional full meeting of this council, and indeed we have had to er, respond to that government initiative.
[56] So it's by no means only er, arising from the erm, need to get on with the business of the council, some of the work that we're facing at the present moment has been forced on us er, through no fault of our own because of Government action.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [...]
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [57] Thank you chairman, I, I second er 's motion, erm ... trying to be not political about this I got some figures from the er county council which indicate that from the first of April ninety-two to the thirty-first of December ninety-two eighty-six members attended committee meetings of which they were not members.
[58] From the first of April ninety-three to the thirty-first of December ninety-three, that figure is a hundred and sixty-five, so therefore it, it, it's doubled in effect.
[59] Now if you assume that they ... were paid somewhere between a half-day allowance and a full-day allowance, you're probably looking at somewhere up towards fifteen hundred pounds.
[60] Now there are occasions where members legitimately need to attend committees to speak to something in which they have an interest ... but the difficulty is, that in the past when we had permanent chairman, a member who wanted to attend the meeting had to ask the permission of that permanent chairman and there are occasions when that permanent chairman thought, well, there is no need for that member to attend and he has said no.
[61] In the present situation, the officers find themselves in a very difficult position, I cannot imagine an officer saying no to a member and this is what has happened ... if we run out of money, then the very thing that we are seeking to do, in other words to implement the democratic process to allow people to come to meetings and speak will go by the way, and I can remember some time ago when I was a new member on here saying I would be prepared to attend property sub-committee briefings as a deputy and not be paid and I was very smartly brought up by a friend in the labour group who said that's all right for you, you can afford it, but it's not alright for some of us 'cause we can't. and the difficulty is if we run out of money and we either have to stop the allowances or we have to slash the allowances, yeah, knows who it was, we have to slash the allowances, then legitimately people will be able to say that the democratic process is being stifled because they are not going to be allowed to go to meetings, and therefore, I think that ... situations whereby a member attends to speak to a, an item, a specific item and then stays on for a double length meetings and claims double length allowances that sort of thing has got to be stopped, and also members attending just to nod approval at something that has happened that they've been associated with, that should stop, if they want to come they should come at their own expense.
[62] But if we're not careful, the real people, the real people who should be are going to be the losers, because they would not be able to draw the attendance allowance which they need to attend.
[63] So, I mean what I'm saying is that I think we should have a league table if you like of, of attendances, I, I recognise that that may not be popular, but I think it's going to be one way of sorting out those people who attend every opportunity, and sometimes just to pat an officer on the back.
[64] This is not something that attendances allowance should be, should be used to pay for, and I think that unless we look at it very carefully indeed, and we perhaps get around to having a proper chairman for each committee instead of this sort of er, bugginses chart er, we're going to be faced with, with lots of difficulties.
[65] I wish you two lots over there would get your act together so that people who chair the meetings were of the right calibre for a chairman and not just because it was their turn.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [66] Hear hear
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [...]
Coleman (PS45S) [67] Yes, let's not open up the debate about chairmanship of meetings er, got a couple more people
Pager (PS45V) [68] Yes, thank you chairman.
[69] Obviously one of the er, critical things is actually reduce the er, length of time at meetings, er, with that in mind I'll be very quick.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [70] unclear
Pager (PS45V) [71] As I say when you become a councillor you do not do it for money, I mean I think probably [...] to be a better reason to become a councillor these days.
[72] It affects your job, your job prospects, your family life and the hidden costs, such as letters, telephone calls leaflets and the rest of it, you do not do it for money.
[73] You seem to be sort of trying to encourage a guilt complex by this, this idea put forward by the conservatives, which is not the case, people should not feel guilty in trying to do the benefit that they can to benefit the people of Wiltshire.
[74] And I also don't think that there's any need for this extra recommendation in most commonwave [...] that [...] a question, and that is to actually find out the expenses claim by individuals.
[75] [...] written question or shall we give them a written answer?
[76] There's no need to actually to put it down as a recommendation that stays forever more, there's just no need for it.
[77] The other things I'd like to put forward is the things that Mr actually put forward, the idea of reducing committee sizes, reducing committee numbers.
[78] Perhaps maybe a cut off time for when a meeting should finish, which I think we'd all dearly love, maybe that [...] very common in business, maybe it's about time we put it into council life as well, so those [...] of progress, not trying to make people feel guilty but trying to serve the people they represent.
Coleman (PS45S) [79] Mr
Okinson (PS45W) [80] Mr chair.
[81] Erm, I seem to find myself in this committee in a minority of one.
[82] It's a little like listening to those debates in parliament where parliament vote themselves extra salaries and I feel very uncomfortable in this process, I thought I might be coming here this morning to disagree with my own group, or those members of them that don't agree with me, perhaps joined with the conservatives in opposing this motion, but I find in fact that everybody is saying oh let's put up the er, the heading, I feel very uncomfortable with this having spent six months in the budget review, criticising officers up hill and down dale every time that they exceeded their budget, having told them that either they balance their budget or that they came in next year with a budget with no more than a one and a half percent increase, or their successors would be doing it for us.
[83] I feel very uncomfortable therefore, to sit in a room full of members, sitting here proposing to add five percent to the limit for members allowances, simply because we've been unable to control our own behaviour, and to come in within that, I think it's a very poor example, and it's an example that I'm not prepared to set.
[84] I am going to vote against the motion, I'm disappointed with the liberal group not come in with a more constructive amendment or even a proposal, as I would say [...] asked you to do.
[85] I'm even more disappointed in the conservatives, for not opposing it, I don't object to their list of members being published, I don't see that that would do any harm, as far as I'm concerned, every employee could have their wages printed up on the wall.
[86] We are elected by the public to do a job and we shouldn't be ashamed of the amount of money that we're paid for it, and what I would say is, that no manifesto in May's election said we were going to come here and vote for more money for members, nobody put on their leaflets, vote for me and I will raise members allowances by five percent in the coming year, I didn't and I won't support that, and you will argue, perhaps some of you that that's not really what we're doing, but it look's like it, doesn't it?
[87] And I think it's close enough to looking like it that the public may believe it, and I hope the public won't believe it, but certainly I'm not prepared to allow them to think it of me, and therefore I will vote against the motion.
Coleman (PS45S) [88] Okay, Mr
Caplan (PS45X) [89] Thank you Mr chairman, just one point Mr , we're not voting ourselves five percent more, we're taking five percent off next year's allowance and putting it to this one so it's a negative rollover, so we're actually spending some of next year's money this year.
[90] The point I'm going to make is that erm, if we aren't going to get through the year and we're all going to have to take a percentage of our March allowances because the money's run out and we're cash limited even if we give ourselves five percent extra, erm, could I get an assurance from the officers that the people that haven't put in their forms will get a note to remind them to do so, so that everybody is in there, you won't suddenly find that because you haven't had your claim form in by the fourteenth you're gonna get nothing and everybody else is gonna get something.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [laugh]
Coleman (PS45S) [91] Thank you, I think actually we've been debating Mr 's amendment which seems to have widespread approval and I was ready to [...] put that to the vote.
[92] Mr
Small (PS45T) [93] I was just going to settle up to you, that was it.
[94] I think that just a few points that needs to be made.
[95] First of all I think at the end of the day that we all know a democracy never comes cheap, it's erm, there are cheaper alternatives for administering decisions, but erm, but dictatorship doesn't go well and therefore democracy will never come cheap.
[96] I do agree that there are some particular areas this year that are for concern.
[97] There has been, I think has put it adequately very well, that there are members who've turned up really for no real reason but to speak on a minor item which members of their group could've taken on their behalf, and therefore erm, I, I do support that we need to look at that particular issue, and I think that can be dealt with under the present chairs arrange arrangement without having to have permanent chairs.
[98] I also support the proposal to have a list published, I know who's gonna be top of the list, it's possibly going to be me, and I'm not ashamed of that so erm, [...] let's go ahead and do it, 'cause it is public money, and the public have a right to know where that money's going, so I'm not ashamed of that.
[99] I think that also that said to me at the point that there is, people need to er, be paid attendance because otherwise you deny people the opportunity to be able to stand for council,there , otherwise you are going to end up with those that are either rich or retired as the only people who can attend a council which [...] , and therefore we must remember that and make sure those who want to have the opportunity to participate in local government are actually compensated for their, for their erm, for their work.
Coleman (PS45S) [100] Okay, taking a vote on Mr 's amendment, which is to ask officers to publish a list of allowances claimed, I think that's all allowances, but not presum , not necess , and including travel and subsistence.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [...]
Coleman (PS45S) [101] Okay, not travel.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [...]
Coleman (PS45S) [102] For the years ninety-one two, ninety-two-three, ninety-three- four
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [...]
Coleman (PS45S) [103] Those in favour of that amendment please show.
[104] ... ., and the against?
[105] And that is carried, before taking the motion
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [...]
Coleman (PS45S) [106] amendment which I hope will [...] financial control which is that the [...] of financial services shall have no discretion to accept claims for the financial year ninety-three ninety-four, submitted after the thirtieth of June nineteen-ninety- four, that effectively means that that two month rule which he does have discretion on he will not have in the case of late claims in this financial year, that means we'll know exactly what the figures are, by the thirtieth of June.
[107] Can I put that, does anybody want to debate that?
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [...]
(PS45Y) [108] I thought actually we had a standing order already that claims had to be in within a certain time limit
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [109] yes, yes
(PS45Y) [110] and I believe that, that three months is the time limit
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [111] Two months
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [112] Two months [...] but he had discretion [...]
(PS45Y) [113] well, oh I see you're removing the discretion,ke
Coleman (PS45S) [114] In this particular case we're removing that discretion to try and tie the year down.
(PS45Y) [115] Right, well, well debated,
Coleman (PS45S) [116] do you want to speak on that?
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [117] Yes I would [...] if I may.
[118] Can I just reassure Mr that if actually we were not, er, if we were discussing an increase in members allowances then I would be fair square with him.
[119] We're in a position where we're going to borrow a bit from next year, that actually puts the pressure on as I see it's about nine or ten thousand extra this year, the allowance is about a hundred and eighty thousand, the total, erm, we're adding nine or ten thousand to that, we're taking it off it for next year, so we've already got ourselves something like an eighteen to twenty thousand reduction in members allowances next year so the pressure is on to resolve the problem, and er, perhaps Mr might feel that actually that extra pressure might make us resolve it.
Small (PS45T) [120] I got the dates wrong, it's the thirtieth of may that's two months after the end, so the amendment I'm moving
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [...]
Small (PS45T) [121] Thank you, er, Mr
Okinson (PS45W) [122] On the amendment, on the amendment, as you're seeking to amend standing orders, is this committee able to do that? ...
Small (PS45T) [123] I think the particular point about the two month rule which may be extended at the discretion of the director, which obvious [...] taking his discretion away, I don't think that's a standing order
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [124] Yeah, I, I don't think it's a standing order sir, I think its part of erm, I'm just trying to find it, it's part of the member's allowances, and this committee is charged with dealing with member's allowances.
Coleman (PS45S) [125] Can I put that to the vote? [...] say aye
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [126] aye
Coleman (PS45S) [127] Well now, I think [...] and I think we may [...] I would say that erm, I [...] improving the qualified budget as well, [...] but there's no doubt [...] , I put the [...] motion to the vote, those in favour please show
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [128] aye
Coleman (PS45S) [129] and the against
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [...]
Coleman (PS45S) [130] [...] .
[131] Agenda item eight [...] Mr 's appointment to the sub-committee of the West regional association with deaf, for the deaf, should be an approved duty for the payment of travelling and subsistence allowances only.
[132] On the grounds that this is erm, now appropriately remote from the county council's work.
[133] Mr .
Cole (PS45P) [134] Yes chairman, I think that before you phrased that motion you might have enquired as to the circumstances of this, and, and everything that surrounds it.
[135] Er, it is not just an additional committee, on the part of the West region, it is in fact the total reorganisation of a number of meetings, and getting down to a far more business-like thing.
[136] Erm, in the past, the constitution of the West region association has allowed for it's council to meet twice a year, one of those was an A G M, and for an executive committee to meet four times a year.
[137] The representation is three people per authority, it could be three members, sometimes it's two members and an officer.
[138] Very few counties apart from Wiltshire have ever actually sent three.
[139] Most of those have attended at an A G M once a year.
[140] The membership of an executive, has been one member from each county.
[141] I've served on that one, and the whole business of the organisation has generally speaking been run by the executive and not by a full council.
[142] Therefore there's been no real problem on this one as far as allowances.
[143] That has now decided that it will have one meeting of it's council a year which will be it's A G M, it has not for the moment elected an executive committee.
[144] It has put in it's place, a, er a general purposes and finance sub- committee, this is this one referred to, it has not made allowances for who shall serve on it per county, all it did, it called it together very quickly, and to cut costs to authorities, it's based the meetings in Bristol instead of Exeter, and it was suggested by the chairman of W R A D, that perhaps any volunteers coming onto it, erm, would in fact come from the surrounding counties.
[145] Now, the, the membership of this particular, er, special purposes committee if you like, erm is the core officers and three other members, and they called for volunteers, and one came from Avon, one came from Dorset, put his name forward from Wiltshire.
[146] Now I am one of the officers on there which gives two members from Wiltshire a seat on this particular committee.
[147] However, we have no executive committee, and we have only one other meeting a year, erm, if you, I, I would like you to suggest that if you accept this restructuring of er, the organisation, and the fact that the members will not be attending other meetings during the year, you might see fit to allow the attendance allowance on this particular sub-committee.
Coleman (PS45S) [148] Thank you, er Mr that was, was quite, erm, was quite informative, very.
[149] I just wanted to check what the position of the old executive committee of the W R A D which [...] been appointed, whether that was in fact erm, something that qualified for a full allowance.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [...]
Coleman (PS45S) [150] Miss
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [151] Yeah, but, I mean I was just, erm, I found that very informative as well, I was very disappointed that if that much money er, information was available that we were not given it as members, because it would have made decision making far more sensible, but erm,
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [...]
Cole (PS45P) [152] I [...] as an amendment as I am involved [laughing] in the attendance allowance [] .
[153] er, I must, I always claim the attendance allowance when it has been as executive, as I've been the one member from Wiltshire attending.
[154] Whenever there's been officers get together, then W R A D itself paid for my travelling expenses and I have never claimed that from the authority, as I didn't believe that was proper.
[155] But as the organisation has seen to be when it meets generally speaking, the council and the executive are one and the same dealing with exactly the same business, I've considered it a meeting of the organisation, and the organisation now basically is going to be the seven sub-committee plus an Annual General Meeting of it's full council.
Coleman (PS45S) [156] Miss
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [157] Well, I mean, I think, er from, I mean certainly I don't know how you feel chairman, but my view of this has changed if what Mr says is correct, then it seems that this seems, that this is the, the basic sort of day to day decision making erm, group, erm, and far more central to the purposes of W R A D than previously appeared, and there would seem to me therefore to be some case of paying an attendance allowance or else erm, deferring the decision erm, until we have even more information, but I think, if it really is the, the, the sort of decision making bit then attendance allowance ought to be paid.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [...]
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [...]
Coleman (PS45S) [158] Who seconds
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [159] I'm, I'm happy to second [...]
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [...]
Coleman (PS45S) [160] [...] members please show ... and the against.
[161] The members [...] say aye
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [162] aye
Coleman (PS45S) [163] against ... [...]
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [164] [...] attendance allowances for members, I would move that er, a scheme be commenced from the first of April ninety-four, and that the wording attached to the paper, be altered in two respects, [...] in place of the phrase is a person over sixty-nine years of age, the words is an elderly person, and more significantly at the end of paragraph four, and normally lives with a member as part of the member's family and be able to be left at th , be unable to be left unsupervised, be added, And that er, power to delegate a director of financial to amend the rates of allowances from time to time rates of attendance allowance for members, and that the scheme be met from the overall member's allowance to which we recently referring.
Coleman (PS45S) [165] Okay, Miss
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [166] Erm, yes, well I'm very glad you've moved the amendments about the [...] scheme.
[167] I don't quite know what's, what happened, because I remember very well amending these details the last time it came to policy and resources, and that was agreed, because the changes you have made use the working, wording of the Thamesdown scheme, it seems to me far better, erm, as you have moved it, because er, very many people who are elderly, who are sixty-nine years or more or less don't need any supervision at all.
[168] Erm, indeed some eighty ninety year olds don't need any supervision, on the other hand some people in their early sixties may need to be looked after, and, you know, I don't fancy the idea of anybody being able to claim allowances because they've fit granny, erm, on the other hand anybody who needs to ought to be able to, and I think this wording secures that.
Coleman (PS45S) [...]
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [169] Thank you chairman.
[170] Erm, I, I shall oppose er, your motion erm, on on two grounds.
[171] Erm, firstly, we are looking at carers [...] for employees, and we're unlikely to come up with very much, because we haven't got much money to do it.
[172] And yet we are seeing as members, coming back to Mr 's point, making a, setting an example which is opposite to that which we force on our employees.
[173] And the other one is financial.
[174] If members allowances are a hundred and eighty thousand this year which is somewhere around there, Mr may correct me but I think I'm not too far out, we've already upped those this year to a hundred and eighty- nine, so next year there'll be a hundred and seventy-one and the thirteen thousand cost of this will reduce it to a hundred and fifty-eight ... I actually don't think that is possible, we can't afford it within the terms of of the present set up, unless someone's going to dramatically reduce the length and the number of meetings in this council, which I think is highly unlikely, I think we've got to set a good example to our employees, I think that this would give completely the wrong message.
[175] We're looking after ourselves, er, but we're not prepared to look after them, and, I'm afraid I have to oppose it.
[176] I'll just make a humorous point, I've got a sick dog, but I see that isn't er, covered.
Coleman (PS45S) [177] Yeah, well, [cough] , Mr .
(PS45R) [178] What point in having, I suppose it's my fault, I should have read these erm, bits added to it more carefully earlier, but it doesn't seem to have anything in their about anybody who is actually claiming a carer's allowance from looking after somebody at the time, and whether we should have a phrase in there that it doesn't include anybody that is collecting from the D S S S or anything else for a carer's allowance anyway, because you don't want to double pay anybody.
Coleman (PS45S) [179] [...] Mr
Small (PS45T) [180] Thank you chair.
[181] I'm slightly disappointed in erm, 's attitude, especially his last comment, even though I'm sorry to hear that he's got a sick dog at the moment.
[182] Erm, I know that for many, that people will find this very helpful.
[183] I believe there's two aspects to this.
[184] There's the firstly that of young children, and it's something that I remember putting a motion to in the last administration about a creche or whatever or looking into this facility, in the fact of erm, trying to encourage more people with young families to erm, actually get involved in local government and politics.
[185] But I think there's also the other end of the scale which is, which is what, you've slightly amended this year, is the fact of elderly people erm, I know recently that myself have gone through the fact of my gran had er, was going through a very sick period, and if she'd have come back home, it would have been very difficult for me to have had to look after her at the same time as trying to attend my council duties, and this would have been the same for my dad, and the additional income which this would have brought, to have paid someone to be able to look after her whilst we were at council meetings, and you can remember that these meetings sometimes go on, you can say well, this meeting should be over by one o'clock then it goes on till three o'clock or whatever, and then peop , the problems mount up for that person left on their own, and I think that those things have to be taken into consideration, and I believe that this is the first step forward in trying to recognise that people have responsibilities outside of the council chamber.
Coleman (PS45S) [186] Thank you, Mr
Coleman (PS45S) [187] Thank you very much Mr chairman, I would like to endorse what Mr has said, erm, I assume that this carer's allowance is aimed primarily er, at er, women with dependant children.
[188] Erm, and I feel very strongly, and I urge members to consider that we should support this as a matter of principle, to help er, that group of our society, I me , I was going to suggest an amendment that we ask for the average age of this council erm,
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [189] [laughing] to be published along with the expense claims? []
Coleman (PS45S) [190] Yes, to be published along with the expense claims.
[191] Although joking apart I urge members to support this on principle, I think we should put this in and then it will have to be considered next year, how, where the money will, will come from, and I think that we should establish it that married women with dependant children will get some allowance to help them to stand and represent their communities.
[192] Thank you.
[193] Sorry, [...] I'd better re ,re , er remove the word married, women with dependent children should be helped to represent their communities.
[194] Thank you.
Coleman (PS45S) [195] Yes, I'd p , I would personally prefer the word people or [laughing] parents [] [laugh]
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [laughing] [...] []
Coleman (PS45S) [196] No, I, I, I, just, just a cover note, I think it's quite true that this is one of the small steps one can make to make it a little bit more possible for people with dependents to take a full part in local government, and the majority of the people who are excluded at the moment are in practise erm, women with dependent children, but there are many other people including men, and including people with dependent elderly relatives, and I think we need to make it the rule rather than the exception that local government has a carer's allowance scheme.
[197] I'm confident that the scheme won't cost anything like as much as the estimate, but I'm, I'm sure it's right that it's been, having having done some background work to see how many people might claim it I'm confident that that we've erred on the safe side here by a substantial amount, and that's why I'm sure it can be met from the overall budget.
[198] But I would agree with Mr , that it does add a further pressure, it means we have to have a real review of erm, how we pay allowances in order to stay within our budget limit, which I think is two hundred and two thousand for the current year, and erm, a little bit more for next year, according to the previous paper.
[199] Did you want to come in Mr ?
Small (PS45T) [200] Thank you chairman.
[201] Erm, I, I wanted to pick up the point Mrs said, I, I don't think this will necessarily this will be one of those allowances which people will er, claim on a regular basis.
[202] Er, I am mindful chairman that I embarrassed you acutely at the end of education meeting on [laughing] Friday, erm, [] and I know that I, I have a circumstance coming up in February, where I have a child who is unexpectedly on a training day, erm, on a day where I actually have two meetings of this council, now either I get substituted, or we arrange for a one off carer situation.
[203] Now I'm not for a mom , I'm not for a moment suggesting that it's something that would be picked up on a regular basis, but I think it does mean, as you rightly say, that er, if, if, if such a procedure does arise then I'm conscious that I'm in a one off situation, I know there's at least one of our colleagues on our benches who has this on, with children on a more regular basis.
[204] Erm, I I think we will encourage er, people with dependants to play a more active role in the er, business of this council and in, I think it is something that is worth er, considering and it is worth carrying forward.
[205] I, I'm very sad to learn that the committee may not fee , feel quite so constrained to assist er, employees.
[206] I think er, we need to er, look at this issue of carers far more rigorously, and I'm very sad that the government, having made a great play about back to basics and er, encouraging family values, erm, are not in fact prepared er, to do something to er, alleviate unemployment by encouraging employers to make adequate provision to ensure that people with dependants can actually work.
Coleman (PS45S) [207] Okay, I'll put the motion to the vote, those in favour please show, ... and the against.
[208] That is carried.
[209] [paper rustling] Nine one, supplementary capital estimates of the magistrates court,
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [cough]
Coleman (PS45S) [210] letter circulated this morning from officers to amend the figure, I think all members should have had that ... and I will move that a capital supplementary estimate of fifty-five thousand and four pounds ... be approved for expenditure on the magistrate's court services described in the report and in the letter circulated this morning.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [211] Chairman you've got to allow me [...] because by the time I've finished you won't be able to stop me, er, but I mean if there's a lot of money floating about in this area then I think that er, some committee or other should be looking at the ... the refurbishment of the courts in Devizes which are a disgrace, and partly the fault of this council when th they were allowed to get into such a state, and I mean at some stage or other, something or else is gonna to have to happen to them and I would hope that the magistrates in their wisdom in some committee or other are, are deciding to take these courts back into use.
Coleman (PS45S) [212] Thank you Mr .
[213] We don't have much control over what the magistrate's court committee do, as we could tell from our efforts to appeal against the closure of some other magistrate's courts ... erm, anybody else on this subject, I'll put this to the vote, really since it's a technicality.
Chalk (PS45U) [214] It's a pure technicality, Mr chairman, but I did ask at the previous meeting er, that the erm, director of property services respond to me on a matter relating to Wootton Bassett magistrate's court, If we have such a large amount of money that we can spend I think the questions that I posed then, er are relevant and I would appreciate a reply.
Coleman (PS45S) [215] Er, Mr erm, I think your point is covered in the next item on the agenda where there is a reference to to twenty-five thousand included the ninety-three four budget for Wootton Bassett.
[216] Can I put this to the vote?
[217] Those in favour please show ... and the against ... that is agreed. [paper rustling]
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [cough] [...]
Coleman (PS45S) [218] Nine two, you have a paper from the, which is a copy of the paper th , that the director of financial services submitted to the magistrate's court committee management board, a response from the magistrate's courts management board for the county council erm, I will move to note the response of the magistrate's courts committee and to confirm our previous recommendation to the county council regarding this part of the policy resources committee budget.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [...]
Coleman (PS45S) [219] Those in favour please say aye.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [220] aye
Coleman (PS45S) [221] And the against ... that is carried.
[222] [paper rustling] Item ten, which I think is the probations committee budget [papers being rustled] ... I will move to accept the probations committee's budget and to agree an increased county council contribution of twenty-six thousand pounds.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [223] aye
Coleman (PS45S) [224] I see nobody wishing to speak, those in favour please show ... any against?
[225] That is agreed.
[226] ... Right, [cough] for the next item members will need to note the statements from the joint trade unions liaison committee and the non-domestic rate-payers group ... and to find item twenty-one two today's papers, the minutes of the budget review sub-committee, meeting held on the eighteenth of January, agenda item twenty-two brackets one.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [cough]
Coleman (PS45S) [227] There's a recommendation from the budget review sub-committee for us to deal with, at er, minute seven, little [...] at the bottom of page two.
[228] The fifth paragraph of that has the proposed council tax bands [...] the county council services but these have been amended by a letter you've been sent dated the twenty- first of January, as a result of information from [...] council regarding their tax base.
[229] And I will move from the chair to recommend the county council, erm, as shown on page three, that is to say paragraphs little one, little two, little three, little four and little five with the amended band figures.
[230] And I would like to say thank you to the people who sit on the budget review sub- committee, a committee which actually I don't attend as often as I probably ought to, particularly to the labour spokesperson , for the way he's guided the committee, both from within the chair and at other times, on it's work this year, to be able to propose a budget which erm, so well fulfils the aims that many of us had when we were elected in May, which were of course, to maintain services, er, to squeeze efficiency out of the sy into the system and squeeze any waste out, and to get our officers working towards zero base budgets.
[231] And to a very large degree, that has been erm, achieved, and I think that erm, the prospects for the county council for ninety-four five are now much better than they appeared to be a year ago, and er, I think the prospects for ninety-five six will need to be looked at through the budget review sub-committee and this committee at an early stage, and I'm sure that the workman-like way in which it's addressed it's business is a good sign for the future.
[232] I would like to thank all the members erm, who've served on that committee and indeed the officers who've worked for it, because a lot of the background work and a lot of the er, consultation with departments has been necessary to get us to the erm, reasonably satisfactory stage we're at, considering the ext extremely severe restrictions on government ex , er, on local government spending, er resulting from the cap.
[233] That's inspired a few hands.
[234] I'll take Mr .
Small (PS45T) [235] You're getting me worried.
[236] You praised two of my members on Friday, another one today, you after them or something?
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [laugh]
Coleman (PS45S) [...]
Small (PS45T) [237] [laugh] Can I thank you for those generous comments that you say towards er,, I think they're totally true, he's worked extremely hard in making sure this council has a budget which balanced, and it's due to his expertise and bullying tactics that we've succeeded, and he should be fully congratulated for that, and I think it's the determination of those who were elected in May as well, to make sure that we protected services and jobs, and, and make sure that we actually carried out the mandate which the electors elected us to do that we have such ach achieved what we have achieved today.
Coleman (PS45S) [238] er, Mr [...] .
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [239] Thank you chairman.
[240] I, I er, you would not expect me to continue with the euphoria which you were trying to create earlier, and er, I have to say that I suppose that you wouldn't er, be proposing any different budget to this would you, in the circumstances that you've got.
[241] But we wouldn't be starting at that, at the point that you did because we did not, would not have spent the approaching five million that you spent in the first er, month or two of this council.
[242] We ... note that you have addressed the problem on social services in your re in your erm, proposal, er and that we we're grateful for.
[243] We were faced, as you reminded me with a projected twenty-four million pound shortfall.
[244] That projection of course took into account the fact that you'd raised the base and therefore you had extra money to find.
[245] But when you look carefully at where that twenty-four million disappeared to, you start to find the problems with your budget.
[246] There was a six million pound erm, er difference on the S A assumption.
[247] There was an assumption that inflation would be higher than it was and that was cut back to one point five percent, which I think that I would actually support was a sensible way forward.
[248] But there was a costed projection of eleven point two million in that, you're not funding that eleven point two million projection [...] , and we need to look underneath, to what that means, and that means that you're not funding schools, and that is particularly secondary schools, to the extent of a one million pound shortfall because the increase in pupil numbers.
[249] Now we'll here very quickly from people who say that we've devolved more money to schools.
[250] We've devolved the money to schools, but they've got to spend most of it back with the council here.
[251] What the thing of course is, and we all know what it is, it's an effort to penalise those secondary schools who've gone grant maintained, but they don't get the extra money, they get a hundred pound a pupil less.
[252] Don't shake your head Mr , read the letters that are coming to me, from those schools like [...] who can see the reduction in their budget next year.
[253] Look at the police budget, and we shall be discussing the police budget later on, you had a windfall, underspend on police pensions, but we all know those police will retire at some time or other, and when they do there is a commitment to their lump sum payments and their pensions.
[254] You've had a bit of luck there, you might turn the other way next year, and you might find that you've got an increased number of police retiring, and if you have, you're going to find extreme pressure on the police budget, and you will see that there is the reductions that the Chief Constable told you he would have to make if that happened.
[255] You're already short short-funding the police budget without that factor as well.
[256] You've got a reduction in this budget of three and three quarter million pounds on highway maintenance.
[257] That actually is an awful lot of roads that are not going to be maintained in the coming year.
[258] You've reduced highway maintenance from six point two million down to er, er, a figure of two point five.
[259] That's jobs, that's where you you say you want to support the private sector and the building trade to bring more jobs.
[260] That's an awful lot of jobs in that, that aren't going to be in Wiltshire next year because you've reduced it, and it's also a considerable reduction in the standard of our roads.
[261] I will be reminding you as the year goes on, and the other items of pain start to appear in the budget that you would think you have so cleverly put together and that with no problems.
[262] We will continue here reminding you Mr Chairman, we will be opposing the budget that you have presented.
Coleman (PS45S) [263] [clears throat] Mr
Small (PS45T) [264] Thank you chairman.
[265] Er, first point, I'm not absolutely certain, when you moved your proposal, you moved from budget review, the clauses one to five.
[266] I'm not sure that you also removed clauses c, d and e from the order paper, and if you haven't I'll so move.
Coleman (PS45S) [267] Thank you, I'll accept that amendment.
[268] Members are clear what Mr spotted which is that in addition to the [...] from budget review, we also need to agree some er, effectively some delegations in c, d and e, of the recommendation laid out in pages two and three of the main agenda.
[269] I think that's what Mr 's moved as an amendment, and I'm happy to accept that, so that forms part of [...]
Small (PS45T) [270] Thank you chairman.
[271] I mean,wha what I would like to go on and say is, that er, which the change of administration it has been necessary to er, adopt a different way of, of developing the budget, and I think you're quite right to erm, pay credit to the effort of the er, budget review er, sub-committee.
[272] I think we also need to recognise that there has also been a er, high level of er, commitment from er, officers employed by this council to achieving the changes that we have asked in terms of financial management, now I'm not going to pretend for a moment that er, we've gone all the way there yet.
[273] But I think in the few months that this administration has er, has been in office, it is encouraging to see that the county council is operating inside the budget, er, which I believe was actually set by the previous administration, erm, er over which we had no influence whatsoever.
[274] Now clearly, we're not going to pretend that there aren't going to be problems in the future that we may have to address.
[275] Not least I think the er, if if the government find themselves faced with much higher pay er, settlements erm, as a result of the deliberations of the pay revue bodies.
[276] I for one will be most curious to see how the chancellor of the exchequer wriggles out of that particular i issue.
[277] But nonetheless, I think we as county councillors can be proud of the fact that we have set a spending target for committees, we are prepared to allow the officers to manage their departments inside the targets that have been set, and that does mean that they have to look at er, what they're spending and create priorities, and and I as a councillor am not in the least bit impressed by arguments that paper clips have increased by five and a half percent this year, and that felt l er pe felt line erm, pens have gone up by seventeen and a half percent, I think that's largely irrelevant consideration, we're not in the business of projecting budget, we're in the business of providing money to deliver high quality services to the people of Wiltshire.
[278] I think the people of Wiltshire recognise that we have been able to set a budget that enables all the departments to have more money in real terms to spend on delivery of service for next year, and I think that's something that we can some credit in, and I think it does reflect a new partnership between councillors, officers and those that are delivering services to the public across the county.
Coleman (PS45S) [279] Thank you, er Mr .
Pager (PS45V) [280] Thank you Mr Chairman.
[281] It might not surprise you that it's the highways budget that concerns me.
[282] Erm, I think it's a false economy to cut on maintenance, you only leave trouble there, you're putting off the problem for our successors.
[283] The young people following us will have to pay for our mistakes if we cut on maintenance now.
[284] And I do, I'm more concerned with the lack of capital in maintenance that'll we'll, we're going to have on the roads and infrastructure this year, I think there's always a reason to put a little bit of capital maintenance into both our buildings and our roads.
[285] It needs to be done now and it's going to cost us more if we leave it till later, on that point I can't agree with your budget, so, I'm afraid, it's roads that put me against it.
Coleman (PS45S) [286] Well I will just come in here because I think Mr wants to get his figures a bit more accurate.
[287] I don't think even in our wildest dreams we managed to spend an extra five million in the first few weeks of this council, I remember a couple of million going into schools and few hundred thousand for voluntary organizations, and er, and old people's homes.
[288] But the other figure I think he's, he'll have to recheck is his figure on highways structural maintenance, because in fact two and a half million's in the base budget and one and a half million's in the approved list of thirty-seven bids at at er, priority number two.
[289] It seems to me entirely up to him, if he so wished, and his group, if they felt there needed to be more money spent on highways structural maintenance to have moved other bids up to priority order when discussing the capital budget.
[290] And I do think it's unfortunate when people try and confuse capital and revenue expenditure, in order to try and er, support their own rather weak political position.
[291] Erm, but it's impressive that he now feels we should be allowed to spend more money to create jobs, because of course a lot of us have been trying to point that out for years to the governments which stupidly cap authorities so they can't actually carry out the infrastructure improvements that are needed to enable the economy and the society to function properly.
[292] I'll call Mr to [...] .
Okinson (PS45W) [293] Thank you chair, thank you particularly for your kind words, they are appreciated.
[294] Erm, doesn't a lot change in a year really, or even in six months.
[295] In May, Mr and his group had the opportunity to vote with us in spending another two million pounds on the education system of this county, and now he is complaining only six months later, that we aren't spending enough, and I think we've said before, the Conservatives have, and continue to have the opportunity for action, but they will not support their words with deeds.
[296] Erm, we've seen it also through the budget process, where all the way through, and it's been a very open process, we have no alternative proposals from the Conservative group, they have complained and have criticized but they have offered no alternatives.
[297] This morning they offer no alternatives other than to spend more.
[298] I mean it might as well be perhaps, I don't know, Lambeth council in the nineteen-seventies that they are representing, along with John Major there.
[299] They're simply asking for more money to spent with no concerns about the value for money, and surely it was the Conservatives who used to tell us ten or fifteen years ago, that you couldn't judge the quality of a service by the amount of money spent on it.
[300] The fact that we are providing the services for Wiltshire, that they were providing, and we're providing them for less money, is surely something to be applauded.
[301] We all know that the task we've set the officers is to manage within the budgets they've been given, and to have no cuts in services, and no compulsory redundancies, and thi this is their challenge and this is what they seem to be achieving, and I think we should applaud them for that.
[302] I think we should note that in the current year, and you've corrected Mr , that it's three million pounds extra that we've spent, even though we've spent three million pounds extra in May, with our decisions then to restore the sheltered workshops and to give more money to education and to keep elderly peoples homes open.
[303] Even though we spent that money we are projected to come in with balances of three million pounds in excess of the budget figure set by the Conservatives, and that is a six million pounds difference that's come straight out of the twenty-four and I think it tells us two things.
[304] One is that the then Conservative group, and I think, by reflection the current Conservative groups, since everybody sitting here was here last year, don't know enough about budgeting to set a budget for a county council, and it also tells us that they don't know enough about managing a county council to manage even a budget that they have set.
[305] And it surely is som something that the people of Wiltshire can be glad that they made the right decisions in May, that they haven't got that administration,
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [306] Hear, hear.
Okinson (PS45W) [307] I think also, the people of Wiltshire will be glad that it us here setting the budget, and therefore the precept and their council tax next year, and something that people will be looking at is their council tax bills, and noting that they go up by six point three percent, or are proposed to, with the provisional assets aim which is set by the government.
[308] And people may be wondering why they're going up by so much, when after all, the S S A, and that is the figure that we're restricted to set by the government, is only going up by three point three percent, and half of this is for care in the community money, so that, all that care in the community money remember, pound for pound in that it's added to our budget, is knocked off the budget of Social Security, that is not, not any extra money spent on people.
[309] So in reality our S S A is going up about one and a half percent, and as you know our budget has gone up about one and a half percent, so why is the council tax going up six point three percent?
[310] Well, as usual it's all there in the papers that Mr has prepared for us if anybody cares to read them, and you will notice, the national non-domestic rate, the business rate as it's known, the contribution that the government are passing on from the business rates paid in Wiltshire, back to the people of Wiltshire is dropping by seven point nine million pounds, it's being cut from a hundred and eighteen point six to a hundred and nine point three million pounds, and again this is pound for pound.
[311] Pound for pound it's coming off the people of Wiltshire, and it's going to fund Kenneth Clarke's budget deficit.
[312] Kenneth Clarke has robbed the people of Wiltshire of that money.
[313] That's nine point three million pounds of business rates, and I'm sure I'm not the only person here that pays business rates in Wiltshire, and I haven't noticed any sign that my rate bill are going down, course they're not.
[314] The Government is taking the money, and it is not paying it back to the people of Wiltshire.
[315] Now, if we had actually received a one point five percent increase in the business rates, we could have cut the council tax [tape ended]
Okinson (PS45W) [316] so we could have reduced that, and I think that is the criticism that I make of the Conservatives, not that the Conservatives in this council have done that, but that they should be apologizing for it.
[317] They should be standing here now as the party of high taxation, and saying sorry to the people of Wiltshire for supporting Kenneth Clarke and his team, for supporting John Major and his team, and they should be saying sorry for the part that we pa played in lying to the electorate at the last general election.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [318] Hear, hear.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [319] Well, follow that, erm,
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [laugh]
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [320] I think that er, I'll be very brief because a lot of it's already been said, and you've already, Mr Chairman picked up Mr on his dodgy figures, erm, with his five million, erm, because what that was about, just under three million was actually fulfilling our election pledges, which is something we have noticeably failed to see from this Conservative government.
[321] Erm, Mr goes on about displaying items of pain in a really rather sort of strange way, erm, the only reason why there's any pain in this budget is because of the constraints that this Tory government is putting on us.
[322] And if we were able to make a budget erm, without the constraints of the S S A and so on, we would not, erm you know, and without the cuts of business rates as Mr said, there wouldn't need for any pain anyway.
[323] Erm, we have, as you would have seen, and has already been noted, erm, balances considerably higher than the seven million we've previously set, at the, at the moment, and these will erm, be able to make provision if necessary, for police pay should happen to be higher than er, [...] we are told than, than the one point five percent, which has something that people have raised with me, and erm, have said, that oh of course you lose grants if you don't decide it now, but that is not in fact the case.
[324] Erm, I think that we have a very sane, sensible budget proposed here, and I trust that every sensible councillor will support it.
Coleman (PS45S) [325] [...] I, oh, I'm sorry, I didn't see you.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [326] Erm, could I go back to what Mr was saying, of course the main thing is, really that er, the difference in this budget and previous ones is that we are not paying projection costs [...] million.
[327] Erm, what Mr very carefully very carefully failed to mention of course is that the rates of [...] has in fact gone up by eleven point one percent.
[328] Very conveniently not mentioned.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [...]
Coleman (PS45S) [329] Yes, I, I, the
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [...]
Coleman (PS45S) [330] Can we erm, can we move on?
[331] The, the motion I moved needs to be adjusted because of our decision on the probation committee, earlier.
[332] Little three, erm, where the reference to drawing from balances is made.
[333] That figure needs to go up by twenty-six thousand to read nought point two three one million, and what's left needs to go down by twenty-six thousand at ten one one four o million.
[334] Erm, I'll put the motion to the vote, which consists of the whole of paragraph b of the budget review sub-committee's recommendation, with this being a recommendation to the county council, and with paragraphs c, d and e from the original agenda paper.
[335] Those in favour please show ... and the against?
[336] That is carried.
[337] Thank you very much.
[338] [clears throat] Er, item twelve.
[339] I'm going to take these two together, that's twelve one and twelve two.
[340] Twelve one deals with the recommendation for economic developments and tourism sub-committee, er the er [...] projects, and twelve two with the er, capital budget report from the director of financial services, which is in the budget book, I refer to the recommendation on these items from the budget review sub-committee, which is in their minutes, at agenda item twenty-two one, at the bottom of the third page and going over to the fourth, erm, a number of paragraphs.
[341] And erm, I'll move those recommendations from the budget review sub-committee, a, b, c, d, e, f, g and h.
[342] In doing so I would erm, particularly like to say how much I appreciate the success of the [...] bid, in erm, as, as an example of county, counties working together, erm, and indeed officers working together, and indeed of getting a positive response from the Government.
[343] I think from time to time, little bits of the Government do work reasonably well, and do respond reasonably well to county council and local authority initiatives, and although I couldn't pretend that a hundred and, that twenty- five thousand pounds is going to solve the unemployment problem in Wiltshire, nor indeed solve the problem being created by the run- down of defence industry, nevertheless, I think credit should be given where credit's due.
[344] A lot of credit is due to our officers in this respect, for er, securing the success of that bid, and indeed for securing a back-up capital resource facility, in the unlikely event that we don't get the supplementary credit approval, er, for the er, for the [...] expenditure.
[345] So, I've moved the motion, anybody wish to speak on this item? ...
[346] Okay, those in favour please show ... and the against ... [paper rustling] .
[347] Nobody else, er, agenda item thirteen [...] treasury report [...]
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [348] aye.
Coleman (PS45S) [349] Thank you.
[350] Agenda item fourteen, I recommend that the county council approve the recommendations of eleven a, b and c.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [351] aye
Coleman (PS45S) [352] Those in favour please say aye.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [353] aye
Coleman (PS45S) [354] And the against ... that is carried.
[355] Item fifteen, I move to approve the supplementary capital estimate of twenty-five thousand pounds for the [...] St Mary's infant school special nursery unit.
[356] Those in favour please say aye.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [357] aye
Coleman (PS45S) [358] And the against ... that is carried.
[359] Item sixteen, the district auditors management letter and audited accounts for ninety-two ninety-three.
[360] Mr .
Okinson (PS45W) [361] Thank you chair, chairman.
[362] I have a particular over the management letter, and I'm sure Mr will be aware that in fact I refer of course to the facilities management contract.
[363] Erm, this management letter was distributed er, to all of us, so I suppose some of us at least will have read it.
[364] And, and the district auditor is particularly concerned.
[365] He says, I remain concerned that it is not yet possible to agree an implementation plan for recommendations made in his previous report.
[366] Now this is in his key messages, and towards the back, there are two pages, where he complains that many promises were made for the facilities management contract, and in particular, erm, he says it is still the case that work to take advantage of the development faci facility has not yet been identified, now I think this is the thing we spent a million pounds on it, and are not using it.
[367] And he says that progress towards down-sizing has not yet been planned to meet the target deadline within the con , within the contract.
[368] Now how long ago was that contract?
[369] Eighteen months?
[370] And this is a letter dated a couple of months ago, is it?
[371] Erm, what's been going there?
[372] Now the facilities management contract is being held up by Mr as an example for the property out-sourcing.
[373] Well I don't think it's a very good example, if it's being criticized.
[374] Perhaps it's the kind of example, in the same way that Westminster Council was held up as an example, and it's now being criticized by the district auditor.
[375] Erm, perhaps it will be Mr 's policy to impune all district auditors that their findings are not worth erm, troubling with.
[376] Well, I don't suppose this contract's costing us twenty-one million, but it's costing us several million, and I would hate to think that er, any of that is being wasted, or not spent in the best possible way, and I would therefore recommend, chair, that we refer the matter of the facilities management contract to the budget review sub-committee for consideration of the way it's not being implemented.
Coleman (PS45S) [377] Right, thank you.
[378] [...] referring to, paragraphs one hundred and four to one hundred and nine, saying [...] , Miss [...] also wishes to comment on this [...]
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [379] Erm, yes I do, very much indeed.
[380] I'm extremely disappointed, that erm, we don't seem to make any progress towards getting the savings erm, that, that, erm, we were promised.
[381] I, I hesitate to suggest, I mean that I'm quite happy to support what Mr is saying, because I really hesitate to suggest reviving the old computer and financial services working party, because I think that was probably my most miserable experience on this council, with the single exception of the budget review er, parallel, or whatever it was, when it was led by .
[382] Erm, but it seems to be the case that when there are not councillors here whinging away at officers, saying why isn't it working, nothing happens, it all gets sort of forgotten or something.
[383] And we've got to do something about it, we were promised these savings, there aren't any, it doesn't look as if anybody's working awfully hard to get them, and I'd like to know why not, and what's going on, and I'm quite happy to support what Mr proposes, that we refer it all to budget review.
Coleman (PS45S) [384] You might have noticed, there is an officer response.
[385] Mr
Okinson (PS45W) [386] Can I just say sir, we are, er, the [...] manager is preparing a report, tonight plans a report for the February the twenty-second meeting of policy resources committee, on the first, well it's not the first year, first tranche of the F M contract, and dealing with these points of the [...]
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [...]
Okinson (PS45W) [387] It started at the end of March, it's the first nine months, it's the first tranche of the erm, the F M arrangement, and, and your members will be getting a report in February on that.
Coleman (PS45S) [388] Mr
Chalk (PS45U) [389] You would expect me to defend it, wouldn't you chairman, and I will.
[390] I still remain convinced, that the, that the contract that we wrote, and, and, and we undertook [...] remains the right
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [391] I don't know where Mr get's his ideas from.
[392] But there nd we undertook [...] remains the right
Okinson (PS45W) [393] No chair, I would very much like it to be looked at in great detail by the budget review committee, actually, you'll see in the report that many of these problems were identified as areas of concern by the district auditor prior to the signing of the contract, and he was given, it seems, various assurances which may or may not have been met, and I would like to go into much more detail than would be possible with this committee.
[394] I'm actually thinking in terms of an hour or two, with the responsible manager reporting in detail to the budget review committee.
[395] We're talking about a lot of money here, that has been spent, and has continued to be spent, and the sooner we get it sorted out the better, and I'd like to see it on the agenda of the next budget review committee, which would prior to the policy committee, I believe next, and so we could perhaps augment er, Mr 's report with some findings of our own.
Coleman (PS45S) [396] Right, now I'm told that the report to next policy committee is coming anyway, it won't be ready for the next budget review, but you'd like, erm, so,cou , perhaps you'd better word your motion so that the officers [...] completely clear as to what you're proposing.
Okinson (PS45W) [397] Yeah, I, I'm suggesting that the facilities management contract, be referred to the budget review sub-committee for consideration, and in that way we can actually consider it, and obviously if the report is not yet prepared, erm, perhaps we can put some input into it, I have to say, that it disturbs me to be given an answer, that don't worry everybody, there's a report coming, and then we suddenly say well, we might like to look at it in three weeks time, we're told actually it's not written yet.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [...]
Coleman (PS45S) [398] That was seconded I think by Mr
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [...]
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [399] Right, well I mean I think it, it's actually quite simplified by the fact that I don't think there actually is a firm date for the budget review before the next P and R anyway.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [...]
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [400] Erm, but I think P, er, budget review, or somebody needs to have a look at it, if you've got budget review and you've got people who, most of the people who were on the old working party know the background there anyway, seems as good a place as any to look at it.
[401] I mean I actually voted for this contract, erm, rather reluctantly, but it seemed better than not, doing so at the time, but we were given assurances, and it was very well understood by absolutely everybody, that vigorous management would be needed in order to achieve the targetising and that was the only way that the savings were going to be made, and it does seem that, that, erm that has not been going on.
[402] I would support what Mr was saying.
Coleman (PS45S) [403] Yes, we have a small problem with the dates, that's all.
[404] The budget review sub-committee has a provisional date of Thursday the third of February, which was in the minds of members and officers to deal with anything urgent that needed to be dealt with before county council budget making.
[405] Erm, I'm happy to take Mr 's view on this.
[406] Whether he wants to get F M onto the agenda and firm that up as a date for a meeting.
Okinson (PS45W) [407] Well I, I think it's, that's a meeting that we were thinking of not having unless there was some sort of panic caused by yet another change of the Government's position on budgets.
[408] So it's still in obeyance isn't it?
[409] What I'm suggesting really, is let's get it on the agenda for budget review whenever the next meeting is, to be considered in depth, and if that gives an extra couple or three weeks for officers to write the report, fine, if it goes beyond the next policy and resources a week or two won't matter in the scheme of things, it's detailed consideration I'm looking for, rather than a fast fix in ten minutes at the next P and R.
Coleman (PS45S) [410] Okay, everybody clear what the motion is?
[411] Those in favour please show ... and the against ... any further points on the district auditor's reports?
[412] Miss [...]
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [413] Erm, yes.
[414] I would like to draw attention particularly in the light of the next item on the agenda, er, to paragraph erm, paragraph forty-two to forty-five, talking about environmental management.
[415] Erm, in particular in paragraph forty-four.
[416] He is er, strongly er, suggesting that we ought to be rather more pro-active than we either are, or than anybody is suggesting that we ought to be in the paper at number seventeen.
[417] And I'd just like to raise this now because I'll be saying more when we get to seventeen.
Coleman (PS45S) [418] Thank you Miss [...] .
[419] Erm, Mr
Chalk (PS45U) [420] Thank you.
[421] I would like to erm, talk to ninety-three on page thirty-one and er, this is education rationalizing primary school education.
[422] I think there's er, a dispute er, erm, that's my er, choice of words, between the district auditor and ourselves, over, over this.
[423] And I think that it might be useful, Mr Chairman to emphasize the fact that we are a rural county, and a rural county has specific rural problems, er, and I don't think that the district auditor has recognized the particular problems that we have er, in a rural county.
[424] So, I wonder whether er, as ari er, a matter arising out of this, erm er, the director of education could, erm er, perhaps address this issue and put forward a paper to the next education committee.
Coleman (PS45S) [425] Well, I, I think I will ask the director of education to comment on that paragraph, because to a large degree, the, the district auditor's report that he refers to there, in his section, matters previously raised, his report entitled rationalizing primary school education was published in December nineteen ninety- one, and it is being addressed through a, a working party of the education committee which involves representatives from the church as well as of the political groups.
[426] But I do think that the district auditor is beginning to be presented as a bogie man erm, waved in the faces of people in rural areas, as a sort of threat that even if the council doesn't want to close your school, it might, and I think that probably isn't a very proper use of the district auditor's image, nor of his report, and I think perhaps some direct contact with him, er to show what progress we're making, paragraph by paragraph, and what we think of that report from December ninety-one, probably needs to be made.
[427] But I will ask dir , the director to re , respond to you on this Mr , er, er, did you want to also put this to vote?
Chalk (PS45U) [428] No, well I, I'll ask them to hang for Mr .
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [429] Chairman,ye , yes it is a recurring theme of the district auditor an , and I told him in the past, that erm, where this council has a policy that they would support village schools and keep them open wherever possible, erm, that that, that, that decision had been discussed, and er, I, I have to remind that I did remind the district auditor that he doesn't have to get elected every four years, as some of us do, and er, those in rural areas know very well that that is the way not to get elected, to be talking about shutting village schools.
[430] But he doesn't acknowledge, and what, this is what I find concerning, the fact that we have in some areas of the county, amalgamated schools into a new school, West Grinstead and Alderbury for example, and taken surplus places out.
[431] In the Meer area we, we, we've built Meer First School into an annexe and we took surplus places out, so we have done something, and he doesn't seem to even acknowledge that, which I find concerning.
[432] I doubt whether the working party will get any further than recommending the status quo, because I'm absolutely sure in my own mind, that it is a duty that this council has to support village schools, where the parents support them, and where they're educationally beneficial, to support them in the village communities, because they are, they have other importance than just education.
[433] They are also a centre of the village.
Coleman (PS45S) [434] Dr
Caplan (PS45X) [435] Thank you chairman.
[436] Erm, if I could just bring the committee up to date on one or two things that have happened in relation to the district auditor's report.
[437] Firstly, er, I could assure the committee that the working party on provision of secondary and primary places which is published by the education committee, is taking the auditor's report very seriously, and has been through it in detail, and has er, drawn up a programme of, of analysis, erm, over the next few months, very much taking into account the district auditor's comments.
[438] There have been discussions, both at education committee and at county council which relate to the district auditor's concerns, er, county council want a full discussion of course about the place of small schools in the county, being a predominantly rural area.
[439] And also last Friday at education committee there was a long debate, both on the procedure which would be adopted by the working party, in discharging it's remit and in particular the policy which it recommended regarding small schools, and also an extended debate on one of the areas which was a subject of recommendation by the er, district auditor which concerns the organisation of first and middle schooling in the Meer area, and there the working party did look very specifically at the recommendation that was made by the district auditor that decided on balance that that wasn't likely to produce the best and most cost effective education in that part of the county.
[440] So, I think that the er, education committee has taken the, the report seriously and quite recently has looked at it in depth.
[441] The other thing perhaps I could just say, chairman, is that I did meet a representative of the district auditor last week to bring you up to date on the work which the education committee was doing.
Coleman (PS45S) [442] [...] Erm, Mr .
Small (PS45T) [443] Thank you chairman.
[444] Er, throughout the management letter to members the district auditor er, makes suggestions and, and indicates that he will be monitoring our progress on a number of actions.
[445] Specifically I notice his comment in relation to the Christie Miller controversy, and also in relation to certain matters involving the police.
[446] Erm, I wonder if this is a matter which budget review might wish to keep on a continuing brief, so that, to satisfy themselves that the, this council is in fact making progress, and will be in a position to satisfy the district auditor in future years that we are er, taking on board the comments that he's making and er, moving forward.
[447] I'm conscious of the fact obviously that individual departments are taking them on board, but I think we, it is important that we actually do have a consistent approach, and it might well be that budget review at some future meeting might want to consider the monitoring of progress in order to satisfy the district auditor in future events.
[448] I've looked, for example, erm, to his comment on the police communications rooms, which will actually have a significant impact on er, the budget of the police committee in future years.
Coleman (PS45S) [449] Yes, I, I mean, I think, I don't want to come in there, but I think the difference between the point that you've made Mr and, and some of the others is the district auditor hasn't put a thing in a box.
[450] If he puts a thing in a box, it means you really have got to read this, and worry about it, but I think he's fairly happy with the progress on police training and police communication arrangements.
[451] If it had been up to me, you'd have one police communication room, not two, because I've worked in operations control, and you want to have a single control room for your authority, if any other system is less efficient than that.
[452] But I appreciate there were good operational reasons why he did what he did, but that's just from my own experience.
[453] Mr
(PS45Y) [454] Thank you chairman.
[455] It's just that I think the district auditor knows what the cost of local schools is, and not the value of local schools.
[456] What I, and I having heard the director, what I want to be clear about, is that any decision which relates to closing local schools on, on economic grounds comes to the full county council, and is, is not dealt with by education.
[457] If it doesn't come to the full county council, then I will make sure it does, but I, one would hope that a decision such as that, which is of paramount importance in a, a rural area would be taken by a full county council and not by education.
Coleman (PS45S) [458] Well, that would be a change in procedure, I think, I don't recall that the closure of Berwick St James school was dealt with by county council, but Berwick St James was closed, I don't think we can pretend in either way about that.
[459] And I voted, I think, if I had a vote that day, I certainly voted in favour of that, and so did members of all groups.
[460] Some members voted against.
[461] But erm, I, certainly Mr had the right through standing orders to ensure that that er, was er, taken to county council, wouldn't he?
(PS45Y) [462] Yes sir, county council could make that decision, it would first though have to consider a report from the education committee, under the education act.
Coleman (PS45S) [463] It's all very hypothetical.
[464] Mrs [...]
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [465] Thank you chair.
[466] I think education committee is quite capable of making those kinds of decisions, and members, erm, that er, are representing rural areas are allowed to come along to education committee, and I think that's perhaps the better way to, to go along those lines.
[467] But I, I would like to point out the difficulties that the audit has, the dist , the difficulties that the erm, er, local authorities have, or local education authorities have, in that the Government are, er, the Government insists on taking up surplus places, and this is inconsistent with their, also with their insistence on choice and diversity in education, and I think those points could be made quite clearly to the D F E some time or other.
Coleman (PS45S) [468] Mr
Small (PS45T) [469] Thank you chair.
[470] Can I echo the comments that people have made on the value of rural schools to villages.
[471] It's something I think everyone recognizes at their own, that village school plays more than just the function of educating children, in small village communities.
[472] But there is the other argument that has to be taken off, is that of, there is money, and I, we all would like to say that we'd like to pour as much money into education as we feel we could spend.
[473] But it doesn't mean, it's not, reality says that's not possible, because central government will not give us additional money to spend on education.
[474] Therefore, we're left with a certain pot and we must manage that the best way possible in providing the best education, not only for children in village schools, but in towns and every of large or medium size throughout this county.
[475] And why should the education of those who live in large towns suffer to finance uneconomical schools in rural areas of this county.
[476] I'm not saying that they are uneconomical, but there may be the odd one or two cases, like the [...] of Berwick St James is a fine example, when it became uneconomical to maintain that school for the number of pupils which were attending, or proposed to be taken in the near future, and it was a sensible option for those children, and economically to close that school.
[477] And that has to be maintained in the future.
[478] I don't support this blanket band of reducing surplus places for the sake of reducing surplus places, like the district auditor, and if quote right, it's an accountant looking at erm, looking at figures and nothing else, and I think that is the problem with the issue, erm, we've seen in other schools, in larger schools, where they've developed erm, classrooms into a decent library, or resource area, but in the, in the, in the overall spectrum they're still counted as classroom spaces, and if that classroom was put back er in, into a class, the school would suffer environmentally, because that school would have no library facilities, no resource facilities which it's able to appreciate at the present time.
[479] I believe that this group, the Labour group will continue to support rural schools, where we feel that they are viable, and of benefit to the children.
[480] Our arguments on Friday, and still are, that we believe the two tier system is educationally [...] beneficial than the three tier.
[481] But that argument we lost on Friday, and I'm not going to pursue it today.
[482] But what I, we are not prepared to do, is allow the schools that we represent to suffer, just to maintain small schools in this county, which are no longer economical or viable or educationally beneficial to the children that attend them.
[483] We are not prepared to stand by and let schools in areas that we represent get closed or re-organised or whatever, at the expense of small village schools, which should be re-organised, or re-rationalised before schools in large urban areas.
[484] We will not take the brunt of the district auditor's reduction in surplus places.
[485] It has to be done evenly across the board, in the rural and urban areas, or else we will fight every tooth and nail to make sure that we, our schools that we represent do not suffer.
[486] And I give that clear warning.
[487] The Labour party in this county, values the role of small rural schools, but we are not prepared to see urban schools suffer to make sure that urb , rural schools are kept open for the sake of being kept open.
[488] Can I remind members of a fact that in the sake of a county where there are more small schools, there is four percent more spent on education in the south of the county than any other part of Wiltshire.
Coleman (PS45S) [489] Right, erm, I move that we er, having dealt with the F M under a separate motion, that we note the district auditor's report.
[490] Those in favour please say aye.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [491] aye.
Coleman (PS45S) [492] And the against ... that's carried.
[493] Item seventeen.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [494] [...] [murmering] .
Coleman (PS45S) [495] Well now, I'll move the recommendations at seventeen and eighteen, but erm, I feel something further is required to try and get er, our officers working with our committees on local agenda twenty-one, and indeed in bringing forward the environmental audit scheme.
[496] I don't want to have a working party, but I'm wondering if we should lay down some sort of set of timetable and dates.
[497] Mr .
Pager (PS45V) [498] Thank you manag , er Mr Chairman.
[499] Er, [laughing] sorry. []
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [laugh]
Pager (PS45V) [500] [laughing] sorry about that Er, er, erm []
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [laughing] [...] []
Pager (PS45V) [501] [laughing] actually I was yeah [] .
[502] Erm, it's just on the big print on the bottom of page one, g two.
[503] Er, what's the point of analysing fuel for it's su , er, diesel fuel for it's sulphur content?
[504] It's much more economical both for th , and good for the environment to buy low sulphur fuel.
[505] Because, you know, it, it's cheaper to run your vehicles on low sulphur diesel, and it is because you don't get the deterioration ... in it, and it's better for the, it's better for the atmosphere.
[506] So I would have thought would be better to buy low sulphur contented diesel rather than analyse it, and in c thirteen, it worries me a little bit, because I believe that the district councils are the drainage authorities with the right about land drainage, and it was taken away from the county council several years ago.
[507] So are we actually putting our feet into what's being done by the district councils over c thirteen.
[508] I, I totally agree with what they're saying, but I'm just worrying that we're trying to do the job that the district councils are supposed to do.
Coleman (PS45S) [509] I, I, I would wonder if Mr 's questions need to be erm, taken up with the chief public health inspector, because I think that that, or it, that appears to be, or possibly the trading chi=standards, trading standards officer, neither of whom are here.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [...]
Coleman (PS45S) [510] Erm, because er, it does seem that erm, though we're not talking about our own fuel, we're talking about testing other people's fuel, and erm, there's an, it's an arcane point about district councils.
[511] Miss .
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [512] Erm, thank you chairman.
[513] Yes, I mean it's, it's a nice report, but it's erm, it's not very sort of forceful or vigorous, is it?
[514] Erm, you know it's saying that motherhood is a good thing, but let's not exert ourselves too greatly to do anything about it.
[515] Erm.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [laugh]
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [516] [laughing] Oh, sorry I've got sex on the mind. []
[517] Erm, I think, you know, when it says, at the end, towards the end of paragraph eleven, talking about the environmental management scheme for local government, [...] could be utilised as tools to help improve the management framework for the councils precedents and initiatives in environmental matters.
[518] I would have felt much happier if the word had been will rather than could.
[519] Erm, it's quite clear from the district auditor's letter that he thinks that we're not being systematic enough, about what we do about environmental improvements, and it seems fairly clear to me to, that if we just push the [...] to the service committees, erm, nothing will ever happen, except possibly on planning, and that erm, it will just sort of quietly disappear because it's not the top priority of any of the other service committees.
[520] And, it's only if this committee decides to take a hand in pushing environmental issues forward, that they will actually come about, except, almost by accident.
[521] And I would suggest therefore, that what we ought to do, is to ask not only for erm, the service committees to have reports, but for there to be erm, a, a, at some point a round up report of policy and resources.
[522] I don't know if we ought to put a timetable on that, on what's going on, on this erm, eco-management erm, business, but also, I was wondering, could we not ask for a report to the March or April meeting of this committee, on what actions we could take to make progress on the recommendations of the district auditor in paragraph forty-four.
[523] Erm, those are specifically, that there should be a formal framework for monitoring the revue, of our policies, that individual service committees should prioritise individual policies based on consistent criteria, and that there is the need to make staff aware of the authority's environmental policies.
[524] These are all things that we can take specific action, some easier and cheaper than others, to do something about.
[525] But I think we need to have a report to this committee, saying what we could do, and then we can decide what we will do.
[526] And I would like to move that that is added to your recommendation Mr Chairman.
Coleman (PS45S) [527] Er, I think, Miss you're moving er, an extra paragraph nineteen as it were to er, that a report be made to, shall we say the April meeting of policy and resources committee on progress in implementing the district auditor's recommendations, er paragraph four .
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [528] But what I, I specifically worded this, what actions we could make, could take to make progress
Coleman (PS45S) [529] Okay.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [530] Because if you still want the answer to progress, the answer will come back none.
[531] Erm, if you ask for what actions we could take, then we'll have to work out a way of doing it.
Coleman (PS45S) [532] Is everybody clear on that amendment, which I'm happy to accept into er, my motion.
[533] I call Mr .
Cole (PS45P) [534] Thank you chair.
[535] Erm, I don't know if it's worth speaking now, I, I'd like to second everything that has said, and what the auditors have said erm, in the management arrangement.
[536] I do thank Mr for this report, but I would have liked to have seen that the chief executive had been a signatory to it as well.
[537] Because
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [538] Hear, hear.
Cole (PS45P) [539] it is something whi which affects the whole council, it isn't the prerogative of any particular service committee, and though on environmental matters and public health matters, another mi may be responsible and know more, it is an overall policy which erm, is being developed and needs to be erm, needs to be brought into play.
[540] Erm, there is a need, as said, to make staff away of the authorities environmental policies.
[541] Erm, I dare say, on all our staff, our staff could make us more aware of environmental policies, and you know, are aware of erm, the need for the environmental action, erm than, erm than the action we are taking ourselves.
[542] That er, er, little action has been taken in the last thirty forty years since this has been being discussed, erm, I think the first international conference erm, produced their own report in nineteen sixty.
[543] Erm, we had the Rio conference in nineteen ninety-three, erm, we'll still doing very little about it.
[544] We the local authority, I think people of Wiltshire expect us to be the lead agency in promoting sustainability and environmental, highlighting environmental issues, throughout the county.
[545] Erm, not just taking a back seat, we need to actually promote these.
[546] Erm, I recognise that erm, within the report it does state erm, that there is the cost of it, and erm, and in Lancashire it may have cost three million pounds etc, it doesn't say what it specifically was.
[547] Since having said that erm, I'm not immediately looking erm, for high expenditure, but I would hope that possibly one particular area, or w er, [...] council, erm, as it were could start operating the system, erm, on a trial basis, and preferably erm, not one which is erm, under planning and highways, though planning and highways and environmental officers would need to help them.
[548] [...] would suggest, erm, would be libraries and museums.
[549] And I suggest libraries and museums, because I dare say they have the greatest experience in information co-ordination systems erm, within the, within the council, and I think, er, and of course they're highly involved out in the community.
[550] You'll find a library in absolutely every community, and reacting with people, and I would like to suggest that erm, a pilot project is erm, promoted within the libraries and museums committee, and that libraries and museums committee consider that at it's next meeting.
Coleman (PS45S) [551] Okay erm, [clears throat] Mr please.
Chalk (PS45U) [552] Thank you.
[553] [clears throat] If we look at the paper before us Mr Chairman, er, g two, and c thirteen.
[554] Er, g two is something which is specifically an envir , part of the environmental strategy.
[555] But c thirteen, about the conservation of the water environment and water resources, is a matter which could be incorporated in the county structure plan.
[556] As opposed to g two.
[557] I was wondering whether erm, the director of planning and highways could, in an update, as proposed by erm, Councillor erm, suggest other ways in which our environmental strategy could be inc er, could, could be strengthened.
[558] I have already suggested that c thirteen could become the formal part of the county structure plan, and that would strengthen it enormously.
[559] But because g two can't become a, a structure plan issue, I was wondering if the erm, environmental strategy of this council, when it is adopted, er, er,wh when it's formulated and, and, and, and adopted, er, could that be incorporated as an appendix to the county structure plan.
[560] I think there are a variety of ways Mr Chairman, in which our environmental strategy, when it's formulated, could be publicised and that's one way forward, and I wonder whether director could perhaps incorporate an argument for or against that,i , in, in,i , in the paper that Councillor has suggested.
Coleman (PS45S) [561] Thank you Mr .
[562] I'm going to bring Mr in in a minute, but I think [...] Mr .
Chalk (PS45U) [563] Firstly chairman, er er, a comment about the district auditor, I do find it a little perverse, that in fact on the last subject when we were talking about small schools, he doesn't take into account any other erm, item than the financial argument.
[564] And then suddenly we find the district auditor making comments about an environmental strategy, which I would have thought was, if he worked on the basis of the last one, rather outside his remit.
[565] Erm, I, I think sometimes if he's prepared to talk about such things as this, he should be prepared to consider the advantages to villages of, of small schools, and not just work on the financial item.
[566] Erm, when we look at the environmental strategy, I always think that environmental strategies are common sense to people, and that sometimes the involvement of large organizations is sometimes counter-productive.
[567] Erm, comment was made of c thirteen, we do when we design our roads, actually already put catchment areas in, so that if a lorry load of diesel happens to split on it that, that there are drains to hold it.
[568] I saw that when I, when we opened the Codford by-pass.
[569] Or went to it during construction.
[570] There are pits down the hill, as you come into Codford, which actually would take the contents of a tanker, if it, if there was an accident.
[571] So, already, these things have been done as common sense in the past.
[572] Er, and I just wonder why we're trying to re-invent the wheel sometimes at these things.
[573] It's probably, maybe member's ignorance that they don't know that, that already a lot of work has been done on it.
[574] But, we're in danger very often, with environmental strategies, of taking quick decisions, that are misguided.
[575] Erm, and I've been involved in lengthy discussion on behalf of certain people in the trade, one of the largest er, chains of superstores, do-it-yourself superstores.
[576] And some of the things that are coming through there, are common sense, some of the things are a reaction which erm, is mis-informed.
[577] But this is particularly in the timber trade.
[578] Timber trade world-wide is doing an enormous amount of work already to make sure that sustainable timber is supplied, and the horror stories are slowly going away, and a lot of people now do not buy timber in this country, from those countries who've got a bad track record, but are buying from countries like Denmark and Sweden, where it's a national law on their forestry policy.
[579] I, I, I believe that a lot of work's going on.
[580] I think we have to be very careful we don't take reactions which actually negate some of the work and the common sense that has been undertaken at the moment.
Coleman (PS45S) [581] Mr
(PS45R) [582] Thank you chairman.
[583] If I could just briefly address three or four of the points.
[584] Firstly Miss 's correct.
[585] It, it isn't being approached very vigorously at the moment, er in a general sense because of two things.
[586] One is, none of the departments are resourced to give this a lot of attention, and secondly we have been waiting for further guidance from the Government on the outcome, particularly from local government, in respect of agenda twenty-one.
[587] Now this week the Government are publishing four papers on, and I quote, The U K's Government first strategy for sustainable development.
[588] So Miss 's point is very appropriate to bring a report back to a future committee in the near future, er, that covers the queries that have been raised by members, and the Government's new policies or new proposals, I will take instructions from the Chief Executive on that, and will, er subject to the Chief Executive's review, also cover matters such as structure plan, and the co-ordination of this er, within, within the local authority.
[589] And, to try and give options for members, at different expenditure levels of how we may move forward, because it isn't a cheap process, or not if we follow the Lancashire model it isn't a cheap process, but of course we can scale our proposals down.
[590] So subject to me taking advice from the Chief Executive, er I feel we can do what members require.
[591] Thank you chairman.
Coleman (PS45S) [...]
Coleman (PS45S) [592] May I just [...] I think that this has all party support, erm, the actual scheme was produced, erm,f and if the Government is a signatory to that, erm, unfortunately the signatory to it was the environmen ,environmen , environment minister Tim Yeo, who has now departed but
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [laugh]
Coleman (PS45S) [593] it, you know, it does have, it does have Government, Government support, so that it isn't, we're not trying to do anything which erm, the Government isn't supporting as well.
[594] And, er, you know, that's just, so that Mr is aware that we're trying to do what John Major agreed at Rio.
Coleman (PS45S) [595] Okay, I er, we've got a motion, let's put it to the vote.
[596] It's paragraph seventeen, eighteen and the additional item added by Miss about a report to the April meeting on what action can be taken to implement the District Auditor's recommendations, and from what we've heard I think that report will also contain reference to today's, the correct response to today's Government four papers erm, on the policy with regard to the Rio summit [...] .
[597] And I hope that, and indeed the point about the, the er, what might be added from the environmental strategy into the structured plan, which Mr made.
[598] Erm, so we'll look forward to that report, er, those in favour of the recommendations please say aye.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [599] aye.
Coleman (PS45S) [600] And the against.
[601] They're carried.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [...]
Coleman (PS45S) [602] Miss .
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [603] Thank you.
[604] Erm, as the person who mo , moved the original motion, I would be very happy to move the recommendations, and to thank Mr , Mrs , Mr and Mr , who are the only members here present who voted for it at the time.
[605] Erm, it has actually worked, erm, in that it seems that there's a very fair chance that er, in spite of the very discouraging things that were said by some of the people on my right when I moved this, erm, there is a very good chance now for a reasonable er, settlement in South Africa, which I think should erm, make everyone in this chamber very happy, and it is that, undoubtedly the case that economic pressure had a great deal to do with that.
[606] Thank you chairman.
Coleman (PS45S) [607] Miss moved [...] .
Small (PS45T) [608] You have already second, but I was going to second it, and say how very pleased I am to have the opportunity to second it.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [laugh] [...]
Coleman (PS45S) [609] Those in favour, please shout it.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [610] aye.
Coleman (PS45S) [611] And the against.
[612] That's carried.
[613] Item twenty, [...] funding.
[614] Er, we have erm, [...]
Chalk (PS45U) [615] Thank you chairman.
[616] Yes I would.
[617] Erm, and in fact I would move my original motion as an amendment to yours.
[618] And the reason I do that, is that er, I believe that you've er, actually misunderstood what is going on, and I alluded to some of that during the debate earlier, on the budget.
[619] I think it's wrong, in paragraph a of your motion, to say the police committee has received privileged funding.
[620] It's privileged if you don't want it maybe.
[621] The funding, was a matter of assessing priorities, and each time, when that assessment came, the police were prioritised as to receive the funding that was thought correct to undertake the duties that they do in this county.
[622] And we know that through that period, there has been a steady increase in the number of police officers the county have got, and this county has always up to now, willingly funded those police officers.
[623] Part b of your motion.
[624] Yes we know that from the first of April ninety-five it will probably no longer be the responsibility of the county council to set a budget for the Wiltshire police authority.
[625] That's all the more reason why you should not be cutting their budget below what they need for next year.
[626] You've used, er, er, an underspend from this year rolled over, but you haven't increased the base budget to pay for the projection costs which came from erm, this year's budget.
[627] And we all know, that if you put the police into the er, budget next year, in at a low level, that is the level which the Government will assume this county council thinks is correct to fund the police force.
[628] So your under-funding next year, and your use of the rollovers, will actually have a long term effect on the funding of the Wiltshire police force, and I suggest that there'll be problems er, ahead on that basis.
[629] You refer in part d erm, to recent Government announcements which you say will make the fight against crime less effective.
[630] A freeze on the number of police officers, but we know that through the review of the police ranking system, that the Home Secretary has said that will mean a considerable number, and I think the figure of two thousand was mentioned, extra officers will be back on the beat.
[631] That's where the public want to see them, not sitting in offices pushing paper.
[632] The reduction in the paperwork undertaken by officers will mean a further number of police officers back on the beat, where the people of this county want to see them.
[633] Not pushing paper in headquarters and divisional headquarters and police stations.
[634] But the announcement made by the Home Secretary went further.
[635] And it went further into things like, erm, giving more thought to the problems of the victim, and a little less erm, consideration of the criminal who inflicts such terrible da er, harm onto their victims.
[636] I can think now of two elderly people I know, who never, ever got over a burglary.
[637] One died recently, but she couldn't ever come to terms with the fact that her house had been burgled, and that the er, that some of her most valued contents had been taken.
[638] And I'd want to know that the person who did that was going to be punished, and punished properly.
[639] And I think for too long, we've listened to the libertarians who want to think of the rights of the criminal all the time, and er, and don't worry too much about the victim.
[640] I think that the genetic er, testing that was, that is now law, has to go a long way towards finding criminals, who once they've been tested will find it very difficult to commit crime again, because they're on record, and they'll be on computer record.
[641] Many announcements made by the Home Secretary are moving in the way that I have always wanted it to move, and I believe that er, in Wiltshire this will have a very positive effect.
[642] We have already, we believe [...] accepting in Wiltshire for two of the new parish constable erm, appointments.
[643] I only hope that the police committee will actually support those and get on towards introducing them, because that is a way of using some of the people in our village communities to erm, to keep an eye on the community and see that those people that shouldn't go round.
[644] I hear that maybe, we're not going to support that policy.
[645] I hope, and I shall be bringing it up at the next police committee, that we will commit ourselves to that initiative will a view to bringing in those two pilot schemes in the county and extending it at a later date.
[646] So chairman, I move my original motion as an amendment to yours.
Coleman (PS45S) [647] Mr please.
Okinson (PS45W) [648] Thank you chair.
[649] I erm, I think it's worth correcting some of the financial mistakes again, that Mr , and then perhaps give him some more facts on that.
[650] The paper circulated demonstrates that since eighty-eight nine through to ninety-three four, whereas county council spending as a whole has gone up by thirty-eight percent, spending on the police has gone up by eighty-eight percent, and that's more than double.
[651] Now I, I think that, you know, if Mr 's got any complaints about that, and he says that that isn't privileged, well I think he can only blame his own administration as well as anybody else's.
[652] I think surely we cannot deny the facts that the police have received very good funding from this authority, and indeed in this current budget they continue to do so.
[653] We've given them three hundred and sixty-four thousand pounds of extra funding, which we could legitimately have taken away as, particularly in the way that it was done, and as I understand it they er, revealed their V I P protection two months early to the Home Office, and therefore cut our S S A by a substantial amount, and I would even perhaps start that as a, as I could, as a series of criticisms about the way the police maintain their budget, and about the way that they have responded.
[654] It's perhaps the only committee, if one dare call it a committee of this council, where the chief officer hasn't troubled to come to the budget review and represent the interests of his committee.
[655] I can only take it that he wasn't that concerned, that perhaps the Chief Constable doesn't share Mr 's concerns, and is perhaps happy that he has received the generous funding that we state he has.
[656] It seems to me that he can't be that unhappy because he's currently managing twelve vacancies deliberately, in order to produce underspend so that he can re-surface his car park, maintain privileged restaurants for his erm, senior officers, chauffeur driven car for himself and build a new hangar for his helicopter.
[657] This produced, even despite that, two hundred and thirteen thousand two hundred pounds of underspending in ninety-three four on just general expenses, on operational expenses, now I think if, if the Chief Constable says he hasn't got enough money to do what he wants to do, he could start by spending all of the money he's had this year, in recruiting all the officers he's been allowed to recruit.
[658] I think in fact it's a bit of a cheek for the Chief Constable to go to the Home Secretary here ev , Home Secretary again this year, asking for more officers, when he hasn't recruited all the ones that he was given last year.
[659] And that's perhaps why he's been turned down.
[660] I, I don't think Mr 's actually got any very reasonable criticisms at all, and we must again say, as we often do to Conservatives now, who do you think's been running the country for the last fourteen or fifteen years?
[661] Are the dangerous libertarians, or do you mean Liberals, that you accuse of running the country?
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [laugh]
Okinson (PS45W) [662] Are the people like Margaret Thatcher?
[663] I hadn't noticed her being soft on criminals, soft on people.
[664] But I think the point that you're really missing is that only one in fifty crimes is solved.
[665] If you concentrate on punishing criminals, you're still leaving most crimes unsolved, and it is prevention that people are concerned about.
[666] Yes, it's prevention, you've got to prevent the crimes being committed, not just chase after the people and hang and flog them once you catch them.
[667] And I think that's the, the problem with your focus, because what has really happened, over the last, well I suppose since your government's been in power even, or even before.
[668] More and more money has been spent on the police, and it hasn't worked, and that's why everybody's looking round for new initiatives, that's why Patrick Sheehy who after all is chairman of a very successful commercial corporation, was asked by your government to put forward recommendations, that a lot of very unsuccessful police forces rejected out of hand.
[669] Your government didn't have any courage then to back up it's own man, and force through some changes, and so I don't know what your policy is, it seems to change every couple of years.
[670] But one thing you can't do, is criticise this county council at all, it's simply not our fault.
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [671] Hear, hear.
Coleman (PS45S)
Chalk (PS45U) [672] I certainly can criticise what Mr said.
[673] I'll just pick up, first of all one or two of the points he made.
[674] Erm, he, he, he er, decried the building of the hangar, in fact that resulted in an infinitely cheaper and better contract, saved a lot of money doing it.
[675] Er, I can assure him the Chief Constable more than shares our concerns about his,hi ,hi , his under-funding.
[676] Erm, this idea that the police had more more money, yes they have had more money, what, what er, has been very conveniently ignored is the enormous amount of money we've had to spend on special protection duties.
[677] That is where most of the increase has gone.
[678] Now erm, Mr refers to er, er, privileged funding.
[679] This is a total distortion of the true facts.
[680] In fact erm, there's been less funding per head in Wiltshire, than many other authorities in the country.
[681] Until eighteen months ago
Unknown speaker (JJGPSUNK) [...]
Chalk (PS45U) [682] Wiltshire, it's no use you keep saying it's not true.
[683] Until eighteen months ago Wiltshire was the most undermanned force in this country, and that's not our figures, that was the Home Office formula which produced that, and because of that eighteen months ago the Home Secretary actually granted this force an extra sixty- seven policemen and he gave none to anybody else.
[684] I think he gave one, one other county to be fair.
[685] And that was the reason why, and in fact the total shortfall, the total unmanning was something like a hundred and thirty-five hundred and forty, which is why the police authority has a bid in at this moment for a, a further sixty-eight policemen, which has in fact been backed by the county council, who are prepared to pay for it.
[686] Now the Home Office has said, the Home Secretary rather, has said this year that he's not granting any more policemen this year, but he also said that if county councils wished to fund more policemen, he would certainly look at that.
[687] The true fact is we are no longer prepared to fund them, because we've cut the police budget.
[688] And erm, looking then at base budget which has been mentioned.