Today at Breckland Council was a good example of why voting for UKIP really isn't a good idea. For a start, they're supposed to be the official opposition on Breckland Council to the Conservatives but as usual, they voted to support everything that the Conservatives wanted to do. They get paid to provide the opposition (£2,600 annually) but rarely ask any serious questions or scrutinise the work of the ruling administration.
For example: Changes to the Housing Allocations Policy (i.e. who's entitled to 'social housing' locally) UKIP voted to support. Labour members, myself and Harry Clarke voted against and made the point that there is insufficient support for social housing and that the housing support team is too stretched and needs more staff. Later in the meeting under a separate vote, UKIP members again voted with Conservatives for a staff review that will see the number of staff in the housing department reduced. Similar reductions in the already stretched environmental services team. Labour members highlighted that the Council is not dealing with fly-tipping etc as it is and there needs to be a greater focus on enforcement and highlighted that there are significant issues with Serco and that there are financial penalties built into the Serco contract and if they aren't doing their job properly they should be fined (e.g. Serco are supposed to litter pick before cutting the grass to avoid litter being shredded - hmmmm yeah!!). Tory members also highlighted that locally we have good levels of employment - great yes, but as our reports have shown us there is currently a 7 to 1 ratio for average salaries in Breckland to average house prices. I..e purchasing a house in unaffordable, rents are too high, people are trapped renting and cannot afford to raise a deposit etc. There's statistically more people in work claiming benefits then out of work. We're a low wage economy - fact.
Under Councillors questions - Labour members highlighted the unacceptable time that Flagship Housing properties are sat empty - 'void figures' - which are now on average a month - crazy when people are desperate for homes - and I asked what Breckland would be doing to get Flagship to fix this. I also asked when bins would be installed at Riverside complex, would the three-legged bridge be upgraded and made DDA compliant and complained that Councillors had not been engaged in reviewing parking and transport issues in Thetford. Harry spoke up again for Dereham residents regarding the Dereham Transport Study.
Such a shame more members of the public don't get to see their Councillors in action.