On Wednesday this week, the Conservative group should take up office as the new minority administration in Derby City Council. They will be supported by the Liberal Democrats and UKIP to secure enough votes to pass important motions in the Full Council like, for example, the budget.
Although all parties, apart from Labour, support the idea of moving from a Cabinet system of administration to a Committee System it will require at least 9 Labour Councillors to vote for it – a change of this nature requires a 66% majority for it to be passed. Is this likely ?
Prior to this, the Conservatives will form a Cabinet of around 9 people led by the new Leader of the group, Chris Poulter. Most of the decisions of the Council are taken in this forum so, no votes are needed from the Lib Dems or UKIP.
The “co-operation” between the 3 groups is not called a “coalition” which, typically, would be indicated by Cabinet positions being allocated to Councillors from all 3 parties. However, there have been negotiations which will have involved some “horse-trading” over policy priorities in return for votes in the key decisions. The first evidence of this is with the appointment of Cllr Mike Carr ( Liberal Democrat) as Mayor. Whilst, in recent years, the Labour group have nominated someone from within their party, that was not the norm prior to that – the Mayor has , by tradition, been from the opposition.
The 3 manifestos that were published in the run up to the May elections contained many commitments which, one could suggest, gives them much room for manoeuvre both politically, internally, and with the public. In order to narrow this down, I asked all 3 leaders, in my April interviews, the same question – “What will you do in your 1st 100 days”, these were the answers given at the time. The actual priorities should be from within these lists:
Conservative – Matthew Holmes ( now Deputy Leader)
Deep clean of the City
Review the process for bringing back brown collection in the City
Introduce neighbourhood funding
Implement review of procurement
Commit city to boundary expansion.
Start process of changing to committee system.
Urgently review the position with Special Needs children, especially those who have had low quality EHCPs, and need help before the new school term
Looking at libraries
Liberal Democrats – Ruth Skelton
The whole issue of SEN is going to explode as more things come to light and more parents are speaking out now. More lawyers are getting interested in Derby now. The Council is going to find itself in a very difficult position soon as far as legal obligations are concerned. Children with SEN have a right to be properly assessed and have the services that meet those needs. Being told that something can’t be afforded just doesn’t wash.
That is one of the biggest issues we need to get to grips with otherwise people will be taking the Council to tribunal and judicial review.
This is a legal process and there are people involved who have not been properly trained.
The other action would be to implement the committee system I mentioned earlier, which we should be able to do that by September.
And, changing the Council’s culture. It’s not right that the staff have to put up with that behaviour. We need a line drawing under an unpleasant past.
UKIP – Alan Graves
Some re-instatement of Neighbourhood Boards with money – that is very local.
Change the rules so that the Councillors in the ward chose the Chair of the Neighbourhood Board, not the Council.
Work towards a committee system.
Spend more money on dealing with pot holes.
Push for more public toilets particularly in the City Centre. Many of my residents, especially those with small children and the elderly, don’t venture out of the Intu because there are no public toilets for them to use.
These are policies where noticeable change could take place by the end of August 2018. They are ones, in my opinion, which don’t require a huge investment, or lengthy planning – simply commitment internally to deliver.
They need to move quickly after Wednesday to re-assure the people of Derby that they mean business and are committed to delivering change.
Perhaps the one priority which will be subtle in its implementation, but which will make a significant change for the long term, is the “culture change” suggested by Ruth Skelton. It is widely accepted that the atmosphere in the Council has been toxic for many years – the only losers from this were the residents of Derby…apart from Ranjit Banwait on May 3rd, of course!
Categories: Derby City Council