As expected, the balance of power on many York Council committees swung away from Labour at a York Council meeting this evening.
As required by law, the membership of scrutiny, planning and other committees will reflect the proportion of the seats held by the different parties on the Council.
The chairs of scrutiny committees will be taken by opposition Councillors.
Amongst the appointments, Andrew Waller will chair a committee that deals with Economic and City Development, Ann Reid will chair the Planning Committee and Nigel Ayre will head the influential Audit and Governance Committee.
But the key Cabinet posts will all continue to be held by Labour.
Opposition Councillors will need to work hard to hold to account a group which has failed on so many tasks over the last 3 years.
York needs a transparent, inclusive, system which can address the many problems which have increasingly dogged York in recent months.
Time is running out.
Labour Councillors today voted through (by 3 votes to 2) the appointment of a new £70,000 a year “Interim Assistant Director Transformation and Change”
The post has been described as a “non-job” with vague objectives
A variety of questions were asked by opposition Councillors, including why just an internal advert, about the pool of people who could apply, about constituency of recruitment across the council and why if they could save money from a Children’s Services post did they need even more than the £500k set aside for transformation.
The post will be recruited internally. Only existing Council staff will be able to apply.
Two other posts are also to be advertised. An Assistant Directors for School Improvement and Highways/Waste will be advertised externally.
Unlike other Council meetings this committee’s debates are neither transmitted over the web.
Nor is an audio recording made available for residents.
Apparently some agricultural language was used by one of the participants.
The Council has admitted that increased borrowing means that Council taxpayers are now paying £1m a year more in debt charges than in 2011.
Kings Square work
Most has been used to bolster what the Council describes as its Economic Development Fund.
£18 million has been committed to this fund already which is being used to pay for projects such as:
• Refurbishment of Kings Square
• Acquisition of an “Arts Barge”
• Tour de France start
• Newgate market refurbishment
• New City centre bus stops
Of the annual additional payments around £0.5 million goes on interest charges while £0.5 makes staged repayments of the principal.
It will take over 20 years to fully repay the borrowing
The seemingly endless series of faults on York’s traffic lights and signalised pedestrian crossings will be questioned at the Council meeting on 10th October.
Residents were particularly concerned when the pelican crossing on Front Street was faulty for several days last week.
The Council has not published any reliability statistics on traffic lights for over 2 years.
The response time targets for the Council’s maintenance contractor have also not been published
Cllr Ann Reid will ask the transport chief
“How many faults have been reported on traffic signals in York so far this year and what is the total time that signals have been out of service? How does this compare to the equivalent period last year?”
NB. The continued unavailability of traffic camera real time information on the Councils web site will also be highlighted at the meeting.
It is 6 months since the Council opened its new £300,000 CCTV control centre and put traffic camera icons on its web based congestion map.
In July the Council accepted that the move had been premature although the North Yorkshire Council has had similar camera access available for many years. Assurances were given that the links would go live shortly.
3 months later and the links still aren’t working.
Liberal Democrat Councillors have therefore tabled a question asking, “Why is the feed from the traffic cameras to the “itravel” York web site map still not working despite the assurances given at the July Council meeting? “
A list of all the questions submitted for the meeting can be read here: http://democracy.york.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx?ID=32384