Extra Meeting of the Labour Group
The Labour Group held an extra meeting to discuss alternative budget proposals to be put forward at the Council's budget setting meeting on 27th February.
It was agreed that a proposal to re-introduce a pest control service would be suggested as an amendment, to be funded from part of a budget that has been set aside for 'Car Parking Promotions'. The Car Parking Promotions budget enables the Borough Council to run several different types of promotion throughout the year; in the last year there have been promotions such as free parking on a Wednesday during school holidays, Park for £1 from 3pm to midnight on Tuesdays etc. The idea is that the promotion will draw shoppers into the town centre to boost the town centre economy. Following a series of questions at Full Council and direct to Council Officers, it has become apparent that there is no qualitative or quantitative evidence to show whether the promotions have had the desired effect or not. Our proposal would use half of the £200,000 budget to provide a limited pest control service (dealing just with rats and mice), free to Borough residents (but with an abuse of service charge for 'repeat offenders'). The remainder of the budget would be left to use for car parking promotions over the next year.
Licensing Appeals Board
An uncomfortable morning as I sat on a 3 person Licensing and Appeals Board which was asked to decide whether a taxi driver's combined hackney carriage and private hire licence should be revoked.
I will not go in to too much detail here but an appeals board is asked to judge whether they are satisfied that someone is a 'fit and proper' person to hold such a licence. There is no judicially approved test to make that judgement so we are asked to consider the following statement:
‘Would you (as a member of the Licensing & Appeals Board charged with the ability to authorise a combined driver’s licence) allow your son or daughter, spouse or partner, mother or father, grandson or grand-daughter or any other person for whom you care, to get into a vehicle with this person alone?’
For me, this issue is linked back to one of the first meetings I attended as a Councillor and subsequent press release as the complaint that gave rise to the appeals board hearing might have been avoided if the rules around granting of licences were a little more rigorous.