Tuesday, August 24, 2010

SNTC 2011 Elections - Are the Liberal Democrats worthy?

What are the negatives and positives of the Liberal Democrats rule of St Neots Town Council.

The negatives:

2 damning audit reports.
Report 1, Report 2 - 1. Some employees gone, but NO COUNCILLORS RESIGNED. (See Giles and Thorpe should resign) Those Councillors in charge denied any liability as all this was in the past.

Forward Plans

The first Forward Plan was a disaster. Many good ideas. The fundamentals, such as ensuring the pricing of projects, were missed. This ended up with many projects being dumped. Such as:

New Cemetery to be developed and acquired by Autumn 2009.
Eatons Community Centre completed and open in Spring 2009.
Acquire land for new allotments by Spring 2009.
Relaunch the Youth Town Council.
Grant Aid increasing by inflation.
Town Plan covering 10 years.
One Stop Shop.
Town Lottery.
Town Wardens.
Support our Staff by achieving Investors in People by Summer 2009.
£40,000 a year for Play Equipment renewal.

All these dumped because the Liberal Democrats baulked at the tax increase needed to pay for all these promises.

The third Forward Plan - the second version wasn't published - is another disaster because there is nothing for the future. The Town Council is leaderless and rudderless under the Liberal Democrats.

Quality Town Status - This was awarded to the Town Council and was lost by the Liberal Democrats. St Neots Town Council is NOT a Quality Town Council any longer.

Website - This has been a source of contention. There are periods when this website goes very quiet and information isn't published. Currently the Town Council uses the phrase "Due to technical difficulties, you may experience problems with the links on our website." These "technical difficulties" seem to continue.

Freedom of Information -The Christmas Lights Accident report continues to be kept secret. There is a fundamental problem with the non publication of minutes and agendas on the Town Council website. How are we supposed to hold this Town Council to account when information is withheld. The ICO found the Town Council breached FOI Legislation.

Robes for The Town Mayor - As with everything else about this Town Council a plaster is easier to apply than the surgery needed to correct the situation. Rather than get the website up to speed the Town Council voted for the Town Mayor to have a set on new robes and chains. Image before substance.

Bad Employer - Ever since the former Town Clerk resigned, I called for a extra resources to go into the Town Council to sort this Town Council out. The Town Council relied on the Deputy Town Clerk and didn't fill her position. Literally Helen was doing two jobs. This was wrong! The Town Clerk seemed to agree:

"The Acting Town Clerk advised members that her work load is very heavy due to lack of staff and that this is adding to the stress within her role."

There was also the curious promise to obtain "Investors in People". At the Town Meeting they knew nothing about this promise to their employees.

The Positives:

There are some positives to the Liberal Democrats running the Town Council. These are:

Finances back in balance - After messing up the Town Council finances, the Liberal Democrats cut back and ditched promises to get the finances back in order. They were help out by an extra load of housing from the annexation of part of Eynesbury Hardwicke and Love's Farm. Instead of facing a massive rise the Liberal Democrats got away with a small cut in Council Tax.

Public Toilets - The Town Council took on two of the public toilets that HDC was closing down.

In conclusion:

The Liberal Democrats have so far wasted the four year term given them by the electorate. The Town Council  can do so much. But they needed to straighten out the Councils' finances which they didn't until disaster beckoned. The Liberal Democrats made a whole load of promises in the first Forward Plan. This ended in tatters. The next forward plan has virtually nothing for the future. The Town Council is leaderless and rudderless under the Liberal Democrats. Robes before websites. Image over substance.

Are the Liberal Democrats worthy of my vote at the Town Council election in 2011? The answer is NO. 

But which party to vote for is still undecided. Next I'll take a look at the Conservative opposition to see if they are worthy of my support.

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