The Council introduced a major change to how councillors scrutinised decisions by the Executive – the Cabinet of lead councillors – and departmental performance. Previously we sat as officers queued up to give us long verbal reports and asked a few polite questions. Now the process is member-led and works more in the style of a Parliamentary Select Committee where we choose what we want to investigate and gather evidence.
I welcome the changes but we still have a long, long way to go before the process is in anyway effective. Last night was a good example when we looked at the problems caused by the Kimpton rubbish dump to nearby residents. We listened to officers before Christmas explaining about noise at the site. We had to make decisions from reports which referred to various noises measured in dBa, dBeq and dBLA90. Now come on, stay with me. Don’t glaze over just yet.
I asked that the residents were allowed to speak. Couldn’t possibly came the reply, they have plenty of opportunity elsewhere. When I asked that they come to the next meeting to speak as we enquired further, I was told maybe and that the decision would be made in good time. Well they were except no-one told the residents. As it happened they had found out about the meeting themselves and come along. We heard from the officers and then heard from the residents about the problems that they had to face day in and day out.
I still am not sure what we acheived. We had two sessions with officers listening to solutions to noise problems and only then did we get to ask the residents what the problem was.
Apparently Kimpton Centre was not designed to move materials around. Yet it happens and this is what causes the noise. We were told that other state of the art recycle centres had split-levels. Yet this is how the previous Oldfields Road site had until is was flogged off to Tescos and a smaller site constructed. It seems clear that this administration still treat members of the public as the enemy paying lip service to consultation. We are here to represent residents by asking searching questions not ticking Government boxes whilst pushing away those people who look to us for answers.