Saturday, 21 November 2015
Obstinate for the fun of it.... the NCC Tory Group
It's Friday.... I need to rant... particularly when it's a Friday and it includes an Environment, Transport and Development (ETD) Committee meeting at Norfolk County Council, of which I am a member.
I know I have not been in this politics world too long, OK - (I've been a Town Councillor for 8 years, on the District for 5 and on County for 2), but I remain shocked on occasions at the way in which decisions are made and the way in which people (Councillors) conduct themselves. (Remain shocked and at times want to rip my own head off).
I wish more people would get involved and take an interest in local government, their eyes would be well and truly opened and a great many Councillors would never be elected again.
Today's a good example which is typical of the behaviour of the Tory group at Norfolk:
Proposal 1 - to reduce the amount of cutting of grass verges around Norfolk. This applies in rural areas, it's something that would increase bio-diversity, help wildlife, improve the landscape etc - environmentalists are (largely) in favour of it and it's generally a good thing. Road safety people at County Council been consulted and no concerns. I spoke in the debate and and said all fine, crucial however is flexibility in the approach - some areas it will not be appropriate (sharp bends etc) and other areas would be delighted. 8 Tory members of the Committee vote on block not to support. 9 'Others' do support - motion carried. (Committee is balanced with 8 Tories, 3 Labour, 3 UKIP, 2 Lib Dem and 1 Green).
Next, a discussion about incineration. We are currently sending tonnes and tonnes of waste to landfill in Norfolk. Ever since the failed incinerator project, the fault of the previous Tory administration, (costing £30+million to terminate the contract with nothing to show for it) the County has been in a mess on dealing with waste and it's been costing taxpayers dearly. Proposal was to send a large amount of waste to incineration in Germany and the Netherlands. I'm ideological opposed to incineration, but, this proposal would save £2million a year (£2million!) and the burnt material would generate electricity and heat. The incinerators were not objected to by residents in these areas (as far as I can tell) and there are not the environmental concerns that the Norfolk incinerator generated (as far as I am aware). So, you'd think the Conservatives who led the previous incinerator proposal, and ideologically in favour of incineration would support? No. Voting against en block - for what reason other than to be obstinate, I really don't know.
Finally... recycling centres.... sadly the County Council has voted to close the recycling centre at Docking. It's the least used recycling centre in the whole of Norfolk and there were clear alternatives for residents within a reasonable travelling distance. As the Chair of the Committee said a number of times, "given the scale of the Government funding cuts, if you're merely inconvenienced by cuts to services at this present time, then you've got off lightly".
And there's the rub of the matter - every single one of the proposals was primarily driven by money - no wonder when Norfolk County Council is having to try and provide services when the Conservative Government is allocating it hundreds of millions (!!!) of less funding at a time when costs and demands are increasing.
When I challenged the Tory position on opposing these matters, and explained that should they not wish to cut these services (neither do I!) then what are their alternatives proposals, i'd love to hear them. "It's your problem, you sort it out" - is so often the reply. One of them couldn't wait to have a pop, for the second meeting in a row, about the Charles Burrell Centre and how it's a "waste" and that it should have never of been given away - clearly forgetting that under the Tory controlled Council they allowed it to edge towards closing whilst doing nothing about it - despite me warning them - and it ended up costing them over £100,000 to keep it SHUT! (Hey, that £100k could have kept Docking open for a while bit longer), and whilst CBC is not paying them for the privilege of saving them a tonne of money, it is helping to create jobs, provide services and all the rest of it - but as usual, these numpties open their mouths and criticise something before they've even had the decency of researching it. So I shall be writing to said 'numpty' and asking if he'd like to come round CBC for a tour, so he can properly evaluate what they've "given away".