Forward Planning or Party Planning?

Local government is mostly a good thing. In many ways, local politicians administering neighbourhoods and areas they are familiar with can be the only sensible way both from the community aspect and from the fiscal view.

However, Central Government rightly and sensibly puts in place a number of checks to ensure that local councils do not get too carried away with policies and developments that are harmful or criminal to the borough being governed.

One of the ways this is done is for Central Government to enforce transparency on the local council in order for others to scrutinise polices and activities of those Councils themselves and to ensure relevant documents and proposals are fairly aired by the public that the borough serves.

Principal in this arsenal of regulating monitoring is the “Forward Plan Of Key Decisions”.

This is a statutory document that is produced monthly by every council detailing ‘Key’ decisions that the council are considering making, or have made.

In short its a quick checklist of all ‘key’ matters in a digestible form that can be viewed by anyone.

The first thing to understand is what is meant by a ‘Key Decision’.

The statute defines it in two simple paragraphs:

  1. Decisions likely to result in the Council incurring expenditure which is, or the making of savings which are, significant having regard to the Council’s budget for the service or function to which the decision relates; or
  2. To be significant in terms of its effects on communities living or working in an area comprising two or more wards or electoral divisions in the area of the Council.

In both areas the box is ticked in relation to the introduction of this Bike tax. Firstly it generates income of a significant order, and secondly because it has a significant effect on communities living or working in two or more wards.

Looking at the Key Decisions document produced by Westminster over the last three years yields some interesting information.

The first we ever hear of the Bike tax scheme in the Key Decision document is on the paper of the 11th November 2007 (p23).

The entry is simple: “To seek approval for motorcycle parking charges” and along side it is the expected decision date of “Early November 2007”.

It’s peculiar that there is not even a nod to the original decision of the Motorcycle Parking Strategy report dated 18th December 2006.

It then goes on to say that consultation would be “.. as per the Traffic Management Order procedure – December 07”.

But, hold up – it’s only November 2007! So how can the consultation have already been decided at a meeting held on a date that hasn’t even arrived?

At that time Audrey Li, a Service Development officer was in charge of the document where she worked at Policy Formations, but hey, things move quickly at Westminster and barely five months later we now have the erstwhile Darren Montague a Policy Project Officer in charge with Audrey wheeled out hor’s de combat.

On the 4th April 2008, Darren pitched in with his take on the Tax scheme (p.29) and on this occasion he actually managed to get in some ideas about consultation for the proposals.

Sadly, he fell at the first hurdle and in matters of consultation he only considered it to be ‘informal’ with Motorcycle Action Group, British Motorcycle Federation and Motorcycle Parking, local resident associations and businesses listed.

Any formal consultation was to only be official through the experimental traffic order, yet to be implemented.

Now, consider this. If the matter in hand was deemed important enough to be in a document entitled ‘Key Decisions’ would it not have been appropriate to consult both widely and formally from the get go?

Wheel yourself forward a month to 5th May 2008 (p32). Not only has the hapless Darren Montague been parked elsewhere, but any mention of consultation has disappeared again! The Key Decisions document is now under the stewardship of none other than Alastair Gilchrist.

On the 4th August 2008 the scheme was introduced and there is no further mention of it in the “Key Decisions” document.

The final report by “Onesize” Fitsall was presented on the 12th May 2009 and is significant because despite detailing that there isn’t one supportive resident or business, the Tax Scheme continues.

Just to summarize, although the tax was mentioned in the “Key Decisions” document, there was scant consideration to consultation with the actual word only appearing once in two years of the document.

Furthermore, the important element of the “Key Decisions” statute is that items must be included that are “ significant in terms of its effects on communities living or working in an area comprising two or more wards or electoral divisions in the area of the Council.” So that means Westminster were wholly wrong to distinguish between residents and those who worked in Westminster during any consultation and at the scrutiny committee.

Nutsville thinks that with an almost daily leakage of damaging material, the sooner Chalkely gets the pearl handled revolver and does the decent thing and kills this tax, the best for all.


11th November 2007

4th April 2008

5th May 2008

Cabinet Review Report 12th May 2009

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1 Comment

Pal625June 15th, 2009 at 9:16 am

The more this goes on the more people like nutsville dig out ever increasing evidence that points to pure misdirection of the public by Westminster Council.

They are heading for a fall and the sooner the better.

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