Despite 5014 people signing a petition, and despite the benefits of the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) being well-documented, the Labour Council leadership arrogantly dismissed the attempts by the public to save the CAB.
There was some level of expectation that, having secured a debate in the Council, that there would be some hope. This was never going to be the case. Anyone who was present when the petition was made by the Teaching Assistants would have known that, regrettably. This Council leadership is NOT interested in the views of the people regardless of what they keep saying. They are focussed on promoting their single-minded anti-Tory ideology irrespective of the impact on the people of Derby.
The petition stated:
“Derby is to become the only city in the country not to have a Citizen’s Advice Bureau. This is totally unacceptable; I want you to find a way to keep this open as a major priority”
“Council resolves to find a way to keep the Citizen’s Advice Bureau open as a major priority”
The actual motion that was put to the Council and which was the subject of the debate was not the above, it was:
“The Council notes the petition”
This means that the Council is simply recognising that 5014 signed a piece of paper and that it was lodged with the Council. That is dismissing the voice of the people as irrelevant.
Matthew Allbones from CAB succinctly and eloquently pointed out that more people had signed the petition than had voted for Cllrs Banwait, Rawson and others. I think this point was lost on them regarding the significance of the mandate.
An amendment was tabled by Cllr Graves of UKIP to obligate the Council to review the budget and see if any options exist – this was unanimously voted down by the whole of the Labour Party. If they were committed to supporting a much needed service, if they were committed to listening and responding to the public, then they would have voted for this.
Just to put the money required in context. CAB had a contract for £200,000 for a service which can’t be funded elsewhere. The Council maintain that the cuts are so severe that they cannot afford it. This is like someone on the average wage saying that they cannot find any scope to buy something that costs £20 per year ( not per week – just £20 in 52 weeks). It is just a ridiculous proposition, and shows a total lack of willing. It is worth noting that the Council were planning to underspend by £2m in 2015/16 ( 10 times the size of the CAB funding)
There were passionate speeches from the opposition benches followed by the totally uninspiring, dispiriting, repetitive and irrelevant presentations by Cllrs Repton and Banwait. If that’s their best attempt at a professional and convincing response to the 5014 signatories then they would have been better off keeping silent. They have completely run out of ideas, and creativity, and continue to show a lack of leadership. For Cllr Banwait this is another “nail in his coffin” – the split in the Derby Labour Party is now seismic, as the dissent in the ranks is becoming more vocal outside of the chamber. Whilst all Labour Councillors voted against the amendment, this was not a free vote – it was a whipped, block vote instructed by Cllr Banwait. Many of the Councillors do not agree with the current approach, and I am sure would not have approved of this action.
Anyone who seriously believes that this Labour leadership is acting on behalf of the people of Derby should attend a Full Council meeting occasionally.
I, like many, watched and supported the hard work of those who set up the petition to secure this debate. They rightly had some belief about the democratic processes that are in place – they will now have witnessed, first hand, that this Council is not operating to historic Labour Party principles, of democracy and supporting working people -there is something, fundamentally, more sinister happening, which is becoming very damaging to the people of Derby.
At the Council meeting, more passion was expressed, and more time was taken, over the issue of whether Councillors could get IT access to the training materials than was shown in support of the CAB petition. Councillors engaged in the meeting more when the subjects became frivolous, and there was cross-party jocularity, or jeering of others. Not appropriate, and certainly not professional.
Categories: Derby City Council