Ever wondered what a Borough Councillor's role entails?

Ever wondered what a Borough Councillor's role entails?
I did! I was elected as a Councillor for the Lynn South & West ward of the Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk on 5th May 2011.

A little bit about me:
I have lived in South Lynn for 7 years with my wife and work locally for the Norfolk Primary Care Trust as an IT Manager.

I am a Labour Councillor and whilst the local Labour group made some encouraging gains in the May elections (moving from 4 councillors to 13) we are still very much a minority opposition as the Tories hold 42 of the 64 council seats.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Weekly Blog: 20th-26th January

A relatively quiet week this week, perhaps the calm before the storm as next week sees both Cabinet Scrutiny Committee and Full Council. Unusually, because of scheduled Council meetings the following Monday, the Labour Group meeting was brought forward to Thursday.


Labour Group Meeting. Discussions around what questions Group members will ask portfolio holders throws up some interesting questions about a recent tribunal that has ruled that someone who has been living in the same property since 1996, and always claimed housing benefit for that period, should be exempt from paying the bedroom tax. Is the administration aware and does it know the scale of financial implication for the Council. Also, some discussion about the Council Tax Support Scheme which had been deferred from last year and which will see some claimants having to pay sizeable chunks of Council Tax that was previously covered by Council Tax Benefit. This at a time when families are being hit hard by the bedroom tax, universal credit etc. means more misery for those claiming benefits, only in this case it is something the Council has some control over - i.e. not a Central Government edict. It is the Tory administration's choice to apply this charge to our most vulnerable residents.


Holocaust Memorial Service
I had been due to attend this service as I am very keen to show support for this cause whenever I can - it is important that people are aware of the horrors of the holocaust to guard against a repeat in future - such events can only serve to keep the issue in the public conscience as the number of survivors and others who experienced the time period dwindles. Unfortunately, on this occasion, my 2 year old son was none too well and this prevented me from attending.

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Weekly Blog: 13-19 January

First, a note about the timing of this blog post. It will be necessary, at times, to delay publication of a blog post where elements of it refer to meetings and questions that will not be attended or answered during that week - the example here being my intention to attend Cabinet Scrutiny Committee to ask questions on the link road proposal - earlier publication might prejudice others' views in advance of that meeting.


News emerging today that Material Works, the company contracted by BCKLWN to provide an alternative to incineration and landfill for 'black bag waste', have secured £100m of investment to bring the proposed facility in West Norfolk a step closer. Coupled with the news that the Secretary of State has delayed the decision on the incinerator, which had been expected to be announced by Wednesday, this seems to be a positive step for all those against the incinerator.

See Chris Bishop's EDP article for more info.


Discussions with the Chair of the Council's Cabinet Scrutiny Committee regarding the proposed link road from Edward Benefer Way to LynnSport. Bringing this item to Cabinet Scrutiny will provide another opportunity to ensure that this is a use of public money that will benefit the Borough Council and its residents, not just the profiteering developers who you would normally expect to contribute to the infrastructure required for any given development.

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Weekly Blog, January 6th - 12th

Having made a resolution to try to blog more regularly this year, I have decided to try something I have seen done to great effect by a few other bloggers, namely a 'Weekly Blog'.

The week should have started with attendance at the South & West Lynn Safer Neighbourhood Action Panel (SNAP) but I was not available for this meeting and had previously resigned as Vice-Chair following the petty political gamesmanship demonstrated by the Council's administration at the last full council of 2013. I have included at the end of this post my speech at that meeting to help explain why I took the unusual step of resigning my outside body appointments. I will of course, still be regularly attending to hear the concerns of residents and will still be working with the neighbourhood teams for the benefit of the community.

The second meeting of the King's Lynn Area Consultative Committee (KLACC) - a committee made up of Kings Lynn town councillors (in lieu of a Town or Parish Councils).

I had asked for an urgent item to be discussed at this meeting as I had discovered that a community group had submitted an application for the football ground at The Walks to be listed as an Asset of Community Value. This means that any future sale would have to be put on hold and the community group consulted about the potential sale. This is an important asset for the whole of King's Lynn and one that is currently owned by the Council so I felt it was important that the decision was given some consideration by a wider group than the standard policy requires.

The committee was addressed by the deputy chief executive who explained the process and confirmed that as the community group (The Blue and Gold Trust) had been validated as a qualifying community group and that the guidance around the process was fairly rigid, it was very likely that this application would be accepted and 'The Walks' entered on to the register.

The Committee also considered a report about a proposed link road between Edward Benefer Way and LynnSport, eventually recommending that the proposal be worked up and planning permission applied for. I am slightly concerned about this proposal as the justification for this expenditure is that the road is required to open up development land and it would be unlikely to obtain the required level of Community Infrastructure Levy from any developers interested in developing that land. In my view, this is nothing more than using public money to increase the profitability of private developers and would rather see other avenues, that do not require such heavy investment in infrastructure, explored to meet the area's very real housing needs.

The final item for discussion was 'Special Expenses' - this is the Town equivalent of a Parish 'Precept' on the Council Tax Bill. There was a presentation on what the Special Expenses cover - things like street lighting, allotments, parks and recreation areas etc. and an expressed
Intention to keep this as a live issue so that the Committee might have a realistic input in to how this money is raised and spent from 2015/16 (it being too late in the planning process to make any changes for this year).

The KLACC is a new initiative that has been fought for by King's Lynn councillors to ensure that there is some form of input to decisions about King's Lynn by elected representatives for the area. It is a public forum and it was encouraging that there were a couple of public attendees at this meeting.

Speech to Full Council, 28th November 2013 - Changes to Outside Bodies 

Thank you Madam Mayor

I do appreciate the opportunity to debate this motion, I believe this is only the third time since I was elected in 2011 that a motion has been debated and looking back at the minutes of previous council meetings it becomes clear that the key to having a motion debated in full council is to have it proposed by Cllr Daubney.

In terms of the content of this particular motion, I am minded to vote against it as I believe it represents nothing more than a tantrum on behalf of the ruling group. The positions being considered are not ‘political’ positions, they are not affected by the same proportionality rules that the council’s panels and committees, for example, are and, indeed, some of the incumbents have been appointed to these outside bodies on the basis of being able to lend skills, expertise and knowledge to those outside bodies – are we to believe that such qualities have now been lost purely because the incumbent no longer pays a subscription to the Conservative group?

If the ruling group is intent on controlling all of the appointments to outside bodies in this way then I for one will have to give serious consideration to my membership of outside bodies on behalf of this council. 

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