Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Liberal Democrats: Are they all bad?

The Liberal Democrats have been running the Town Council for the last 4 years. This has been with 13 Councillors to the conservative opposition of 5. A very healthy majority of 8. So the Liberal Democrats have really themselves to blame if their policies haven't been pushed through.

Being in opposition is easy. Being in Government is hard. That is the lesson for the last 4 years.

The two damning audit reports. Very little of this has actually made the headlines. What made the headlines was the missing loan. Yet this was an historic event. The Town Council was paying the loan. It was the outstanding amount that wasn't accounted for. Actually very minor. Whilst many historic problems arose it wasn't this I had a go at the Liberal Democrats about. It was the handling and secrecy surrounding this resolution of these problems that should be held against the Town Council.

The Liberal Democrats started in a bad position. They had minimal reserves and were using these reserves to keep council tax down. This is really a no-no. When reserves run out either Council Tax has to rise steeply or services have to be cut. In charge of this was Cllrs Giles and Thorpe. Leader and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the now defunct Policy and Resources Committee and, for a year, Leader and Deputy Leader of the Town Council. They were in charge.

Much of why I feel the both Giles and Thorpe should have resigned is in this blog.

Instead of taking stock they went on an expansionist plan without the resources to implement those plans. This from the Liberal Democrats which set up the Policy and Resources Committee. In the end it was their inability to do the right thing that was their downfall. Except Cllr Thorpe was made Town Mayor after this mess.

To get out of this mess Giles and Thorpe dumped many of the essential projects such as the Town Plan without any notice. Policy and Resources meetings were simply not held or when they were Council finances were not discussed.

In the end the Town Council was just labelled a:
No Councillor resigned because of this. Officers went but no Town Councillor stood up and took  responsibility for this mess. Indeed Cllr Thorpe became Town Mayor. Derek Giles has decided not to stand this time around.

The loss of Quality Status was a blow. But this was to be expected after two damning audit reports and the Town Council has come on since it was a "Shambles". The regaining of the Quality Status was a bung by CPALC.

Is the Liberal Democrat run Town Council perfect? I don't believe it is. What I do take on board is this Town Council has moved on from Shambles to a better place. In many respects this has been 4 wasted years by the Liberal Democrats.

Do I feel the Liberal Democrats deserve 4 more years? Well yes I do. What has changed is Derek Giles not re-standing for Town Council. With a useless lacklustre Conservative opposition I don't believe they are ready to take power and lead St Neots either. Far too many Conservatives will be sitting on two or three Councils.

What has it for the Liberal Democrats was their unwillingness to kowtow to Conservative run HDC. What also has it for the Liberal Democrats is they have turned the Town Council around.

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