By Chris Osbourne.
NELC budget debate; uninspiring.
I’ve just returned from the North East Lincolnshire Council meeting at Grimsby Town Hall. It’s clear from the endlessly repetitive speeches that the council’s budget will be approved. I’ve been to many council meetings over the last 15 years or so and seen some very informative debates. This, however, wasn’t one of them. The council was meeting to debate the budget for the next two years.
The Conservatives opposed Labour’s budget and, for the first time in a long while, tabled their own amendment. I attended in the hope of seeing the council enter into a sensible debate with speakers taking a position and offering evidence and reasons in support of that position. We were subjected to endless repeats of Labour’s claim it’s all the Government’s fault, and the opposition blaming the Labour council for failing to manage their spending wisely.
Councillors express anger at opponents.
It started off well enough with Conservative leader Philip Jackson pointing out that the council had received £32 million pounds in addition to the council grant this year, so lack of money was hardly the issue. From there it went downhill, with each side blaming the other.
After 3 hours of this, neither party had offered one single example of something that was actually in the budget. The rare high spots in this hot air were Cllrs Hyldon-King, Sheppard and Rudd who pulled no punches and laid into the opposition like they were asking them to step outside. If nothing they offered passion to a dull, low quality and seemingly endless debate..
Cllrs Swinburne and Proctor thought they were at a different debate entirely and meandered off into other areas. On and on it went, our elected representatives endlessly talking themselves round in circles. Very few points were made, the debate offered nothing new, no information about the actual matter at hand was presented and, quite frankly, it was very disappointing.
These were the people who we voted to represent us. What we saw again tonight was people representing their parties and not the needs of this community. It was embarrassing. It was astonishingly poor and we have a right to expect better than this nonsense.
There are council elections coming up in May and the standard of our representation needs improving. This town needs a whole lot more than bickering, platitudes and tired soundbites.
I’ve always encouraged people to attend meetings and see their representatives in action. After tonight, I’m glad they didn’t.