4 November 2011

Tonight's cabinet meeting

a drinks cabinet; the most useful kind of cabinet
Mr Mustard is unclear as to why these meetings exist. He spent some time printing out 246 pages of the report pack in case there weren't any public copies, as sometimes happens, and what with having chosen to travel by motorbike and the extra time that getting dressed in his safety gear takes, he was 5 minutes late. This meant that Mr Mustard missed Cllr Coleman berating a person who was getting ready to film the meeting for filming before the meeting started ( he wasn't, but it takes time to set up the equipment ) and calling him a failed ex-councillor (ouch!). See some film of the meeting here.

He missed Mr Reasonable's perfectly reasonable question being swatted aside like a wrong answer in trivial pursuit and arrived to find Cllr Thomas in full flow about what a marvellous job the council had done with the budget. He sat down next to Mr Reasonable and wrote "bullshit night" on the top of his agenda. Mr Reasonable nodded and rolled his eyes in a "why the heck do we bother" manner. Mr Mustard does not know anyone more reasonable than Mr Reasonable and he is starting to despair at Barnet Council.

The Cllr Rams spoke and said that the savings in the library budget had gone backwards because of the extra time given to community groups to present their ideas. There was also some nonsense about One Barnet savings in the budget. Mr Mustard didn't pay full attention as One Barnet savings just mean that the budget has been slashed to ribbons.

So 7.10pm and Mr Mustard noted that pages 1-85 of the meeting, headed Business Planning 2012/13 to 2014/15 had been agreed. So if we take away 4 minutes for the minutes of the previous meeting. the absence of members to be noted, the declaration of members interests ( probably none as they aren't interested in council business ) and public question time, that left 6 minutes for 85 pages of detailed financial documents to be considered and cross-examined.

So on to item 6. Schools with Cllr Harper, who oozes mis-placed confidence, presented his report. All; is rosy in the kitchen wrote Mr Mustard in his notes who has long since given up making verbatim notes as he pukes when he gets home and reads the real words. Cllr Rams put in a plea for leisure to be considered alongside schools. Now Mr Reasonable knows more about this subject than Mr Mustard as he actually tries, with his family, to use the leisure facilities of the borough and they are disappearing fast; almost as fast as our schools are becoming academies and can put 2 fingers up to the council ( why would you want the council to interfere in the running of your school if you can manage without all of their stupid rules? ). Cllr Harper said that more than half of all Barnet secondary schools are now academies and they saw themselves as part of the Barnet family. Mr Mustard doubts that somehow and time will tell. The question becomes why we have so many administrative staff in the schools section; I should look for another job if I were you.

So 7.18 pm and pages 86-101 of the schools report were nodded through.

On to Item 7 and Tom Davey was saying why it was so marvellous that new council tenants would not be able to sleep easy in their beds any longer, or have longer than a 5 year tenancy as he put it, or 2 years if you were under 25. Take up your bed and walk would be how Father Benjamin would put it wouldn't he Mrs Angry? The future policy is to be based upon Need not Desire. Now as it happens Mr Mustard used to do door to door debt collection on the Dollis Valley Estate and he never met anyone who desired to live there. Davey went on " if the taxpayer is paying for your accommodation then he expects you to live in the correct size of accommodation". Mr Mustard was under the impression that tenants paid rent but perhaps he got that point wrong?

Anyway let's not waste time on poor council tenants. It's 7.22pm so the 16 pages of report & new policy are approved.

On to item 8. The North London Waste  Authority - Inter Authority Agreement - purely a technical report according to Cllr Coleman so 1 minute later it is agreed. The devil is in the detail. Did anyone look at the detail?

Item 9 was a rather interesting report about the Finchley Church End Conservation Area Character Appraisal. Someone has gone to a lot of time & trouble to record the history of the area and included a lot of photographs. Cllr Coleman was so fascinated by local architecture that he called out Agreed before Mr Lustig had even presented the report. Cllr Coleman then complained that he recalled that these sort of reports had been designated to Area Environment Committees in order to save money and not waste the time of Cabinet. Cllr Cornelius did say this was something that could be looked at but Mr Lustig was allowed to present the report and it was agreed at 7.24p. Only a philistine could think that our history is not worth a little study.

So 7.25 the Referrals to Council were all noted and the meeting closed. Only 3 minutes longer than the shortest meeting that Mr Mustard had ever attended. He would have liked to have gone home at that point but there was a meeting of the General Functions Committee scheduled for 8pm

25 minutes of his life had gone for ever, to no great improvement in society.

Update Friday am

Decision making
Meetings of the council happen approximately 7 times a year. These will decide on the budget, major policy issues and plans. An executive, or cabinet, of nine councillors together with the leader of the council make most of the other decisions. Each cabinet member is responsible for an area, or portfolio of council activity.

If 25 minutes represents the entire debate by the Cabinet then every councillor present should resign as they are not doing their job properly.

If the 25 minutes meeting does not represent the entire debate then there must be another meeting or meetings in advance of this one.

Thus, democracy is being denied as the public are not privy to the earlier discussions.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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