Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mayor Making and AGM and Special Council meeting

The Investiture of the Lord Mayor went very well, Councillor Steve Rotheram (Labour) was proud and humbled by this chance to serve his city. One of the younger Lord Mayors I think he is going to be keen to make his mark and has already set up a new Lord Mayor's funding pot for small local projects and a Lord Mayor drop-in session, both quite new.

He wants to raise £208k for 2008 - and lets hope he pulls it off, all charities are very worthy.

The AGM was a bit of a mess, we were fighting against cuts in select committees, against the abolition of local area committes, against allowances for assistant executive members (assistant cabinet members) but we lost them all, even with the help of the Liberal Party and the Green Party. A devastating day for democracy - a fair result reflecting the numbers in the council chamber, but a terrible day for the voters and their idea about fairness.

We did win a few small local victories, around chairing neighbourhood partnership working groups for instance, but in general there was a sour taste in the mouth.

We now have fewer committees to scrutinise and fewer members to sit on those committees.

We went from that disappointment to the Special Council meeting called to try one last time to save Boaler Street and Leighton Dene.

Mary, an 81 year old lady, who is the principal carer for her 104 year old mum, spoke very eloquently about the care they have experienced from Leighton Dene, particularly in terms of rehab and respite. It was very powerful and she received a standing ovation from Labour, Liberal and Green members on her way into and out of the chamber.

Roz powerfully presented our case to keep the centres open, along with our leader Joe, but alas the voting went 40 - 44 and the centres are probably doomed.

Ironically Nadia Stewart, the new LibDem, elected a Labour councillor, who propped up the administration that would otherwise have gone into no-overall-control, abstained from voting. As did her co-councillor Phil Moffatt.

I was very unclear as to why that was.

They could have voted with the Lib Dems who would then have won by 6 votes, or with us and the LibDems would have won by 2 votes. There was no reason for them to abstain, it just looked like a cop-out to everyone present.

There were tears afterwards, some of which I am not ashamed to say were mine, as we tried to comfort the staff, the service-users and their carers. We now need to save their jobs, or any job for them within LCC as a cursory look at the current internal jobs showed only a tiny handful of suitable jobs for all these many jobs.

It was a very sad evening which was mixed with the pleasure of welcoming our new Lord Mayor.

I felt almost schizophrenic.


scouseboy said...

You have done all you can to save leighton dene, you can walk tall. The Fib Dems should hang their heads in shame.

Louise Baldock said...

I did nothing compared to the work of Roz, Roy and the two Joe's and Wendy. They were relentless.

I offered moral support, shoved a load of petitions out and kept people in touch with the results. But lots of people did that.

I went to a few public meetings and met the workers several times and the carers and service users of course.

But we only carried out the planning of others.

Most of what I did was to ensure that Frank Doran was not the councillor at the end of the campaign, and I will take some credit for that. But even then it was really the 1400 Labour voters who showed him the door, not me.

So no praise due here really, just a lot of passion and heartache, that in any case we all share.