About This Blog

The public should know all we can about the business of the decision makers that affect our lives, our wallets and our democracy. This is a record of my efforts to try and improve the levels of transparency and accountability within Sheffield City Council and others. To shine a light on how decisions are made and where the money goes. If I can also help others to find their own voice and influence along the way, then that is a bonus.

Friday, 20 September 2013

18th September 2013. Sheffield City Council Cabinet Meeting. by Nigel Slack.

The meeting started at 2pm and during the Housekeeping item on the agenda, the meeting was told by Julie Dore, Leader of the Council, that the proceedings could now be recorded by members of the public. This is the first Cabinet Meeting since these rules came into force but after asking the public gallery, all three of us, there were no requests to record this time around.

This emphasises for me the need for formal recording and webcasting by the Council of all relevant decision making meetings. Partly because people actually involved in the meetings do not necessarily have the time to do their own recording but also because they may not have the facility or confidence to do so.

As for this report of the meeting, it is my intention, with all these reports, to highlight areas of interest to me personally or of particular importance in the wider context of local politics. I will always supply, as soon as they are available, links to the minutes of the meeting from the City website.

After agreeing previous minutes, though there was some confusion over a couple of amendments that needed to be made, the meeting moved on to the item ‘Public Questions and Petitions’. There were no petitions at this meeting and so it was straight to questions.

There were three questioners, myself included.

The first questioner, who’s name I missed, expressed many concerns about the way the Streets Ahead project was being managed in the High Green area of the City. From accidents being caused by the works, to poor quality of work that would quickly deteriorate.
Councillor Julie Dore (Leader) responded by asking the questioner to give that information to Councillor Jack Scott (Cabinet Member for Environment, Recycling and Streetscene) who would respond in writing.
Councillor Scott indicated he had received that information already and would respond but also had some comments for the meeting. Councillor Scott stated that he was aware that High Green was a problem, it was behind schedule and the disruption seemed particularly high. He also said he believed that the residents would see it as worthwhile once the work was complete.

Question two was mine. I commented that I had a number of outstanding requests for information with the Council, ranging from 10 days to 10 months and asked when do such delays become too long?
I was also able to say that the 10 day item had been answered that very day when Councillor Mazher Iqbal (Cabinet Member for Communities and Inclusion) had passed me the information before the start of the meeting.

Councillor Dore asked for clarification on what items I meant and I was able to comment that the major items were already known to Councillors Bryan Lodge (Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources) and Mary Lea (Cabinet Member for Health, Care and Independent Living).

Councillor Lodge then repeated his continuing excuse that budget constraints meant that my request was not a priority and that when the information was available it would be published on the Council’s website. This response is feeling trite and insulting at this point when other Cabinet members are not, apparently, having the same problem.

Councillor Lea commented that there had been some confusion about the sending out of the information she was providing but that it was ready and I would have it by the end of the day. (An e-mail was waiting for me on my return home)

There was no actual answer to the question of when such delays become too long.

The final question came from Martin Brighton, a regular at these meetings. He asked a number of questions about integrity, innocence until proven guilty and sanctions against Councillors who fail to keep promises. What peaked my particular interest was a question about whether the leader was aware of members of Council stalking him?

Councillor Dore said she was not aware of such and if she believed she was being stalked she would call the police. I do hope there is a further instalment in this story in the near future.

The meeting then moved on to other business which is recorded in the minutes of the meeting and I left.

Next meeting 16th October 2013.

Download Minutes of the Meeting