I promised to share the Conservative answers to the Labour Group Questions to the Borough Council last night, 23rd April.
They make interesting reading and demonstrate that they will now say anything to avoid facing the people of Northampton and giving them an opportunity to ask questions even contradicting themselves.
There has always been a question mark on how quickly the Conservative administration would morph into being Liberal Democrats and the different and contradictory answers on the same issues during last night’s meeting has given us the answer.
It has taken less than 12 months for the Conservative administration to have adopted the Liberal Democrat style of Council Northampton had between 2007 and 2011 with the Cabinet reusing to answer questions from the opposition whist planting questions from their own Councillors.
It is the nature of coalition politics that has arrived in Northampton with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats as we are seeing in Westminster being one and the same.
The people of Northampton voted for a change in 2011 and are increasingly disappointed that the only change they have seen is the change of name with the majority of the Liberal Democrat policies continuing to be implemented.
Northampton Borough Council
Labour Group Questions to Full Council on 23rd April 2012
Cllr Mason Leader of the Labour Group to Cllr Markham (Conservative)
Can the Portfolio Holder assure us that she is serious in using all £49.3 million in the Decent Homes Backlog Programme from the Homes & Communities Agency? Can you give a further assurance that the Housing Directorate has the capacity and expertise to use this funding effectively and deliver the improvements promptly?
The council is receiving £4,540,000 of the money for 2012/13 and we are confident that this will be fully spent.
The balance of the allocation is for years 2013/14 and 2014/15 and at the moment is only an indicative allocation. However, we are already putting processes/procedures in place to ensure this money will be fully committed once we receive the confirmation of the funding.
(What was interesting was that Cllr Markham said very clearly during the meeting is that she was confident the Council would be getting the allocated money. In effect admitting that there will be enough money to bring the Council Housing up to the Decent Homes standard without the need to spend £2 million to persuade tenants to vote to transfer their homes to a housing association, and then went on to say that the Conservatives would not be held to promises made in their manifesto a year ago)
Cllr Mason Leader of the Labour Group to Cllr Mackintosh (Conservative)
The Labour Group welcomes the “U-turn” but why did Northampton Borough Council originally bid for £240,000 of County Council funding to provide specialist advice and then suddenly withdraw?
All tender and contract negotiations are conducted on a confidential basis and I am therefore unable to provide and further information with regard to this matter, I have however briefed the Group Leaders on this last week.
(Cllr David Mackintosh the Leader of the Council admitted that there had been mistakes and that he had ordered an internal enquiry into how the bid had been submitted and that he and the Cabinet didn’t know how it had happened)
Cllr Mennell (Labour) to Cllr Markham (Conservative)
Why does this Council not have a ‘Clean Up Package’ in place after a major fire has taken place in a Council house? NBC does not appear to have any provision to restore Council homes up to a decent standard when a fire has taken place in the building.
If there is a fire in one of our properties an insurance claim will be submitted if the works will be more than the threshold of £5000, otherwise, the Council will cover the cost of the works.
In all instances, we will carry out a deep clean of the property and carry out any structural repairs and repairs to fixtures and fittings.
If the fire was due to a fault of the Authority, then we would decorate throughout. If, however, it is due to a fault of the tenant, then we would only redecorate on a recharge basis.
Cllr Les Marriott (Labour) to Cllr Brendan Eldred (Conservative)
Some Forum users have expressed concern at the way the Leader ‘hijacked’ them to carry out initial consultation with the general public regarding the bus interchange proposals. Forums are designed to be consultative bodies and specific to certain parts of our population such as pensioners and disabled. There is therefore concern as to the future operation of these Forums.
Would the Conservative Administration confirm its support for these forums and their continuation in their present form as laid down in the NBC Constitution?
The forums are a useful consultation vehicle for reaching key sections of Northampton’s communities on important issues – both in terms of getting messages out and genuinely listening to what people have to say. The Administration has had positive feedback from the forums particularly from the Youth Forum.
We are fully committed to meaningful consultation and effective forums are an essential part of the type of robust approach to consultation we need to have in place.
(Strangely Cllr Eldred and his Conservative colleagues, Cllr David Mackintosh and Cllr Tim Hadland those responsible for the decision taken on the relation of the bus station refused to support Labour’s call to hold a public open meeting on a Saturday to listen to the concerns of the people who live in Northampton.
“We are really committed to consultation”, but only with those who will agree with us and who we invite to take part, a real case of ‘How Can I Ignore You Today’)
Cllr Les Marriott (Labour) to Cllr Mary Markham (Conservative)
52% of NBC housing stock in Northampton is meeting the Decent Homes Standard. Why is the Conservative Administration including these in their plans for a full-scale stock transfer?
The authority has not made a formal decision to transfer the housing stock at this time and there is an Option Appraisal underway, which was agreed as part of this year’s budget. Any decision will include all the housing stock and be subject to consultation.
Our ambition for the authority is to explore and provide the best possible housing offer to the people of Northampton. It is not just to achieve decency, but also to improve our service offer to our existing and prospective tenants.
(If a decision hasn’t been taken why did the Leader of the Council say in the Chronicle and Echo before the consultation has even started “We believe stock transfer is the way forward”, does anyone believe that the decision hasn’t already been taken? Certainly tenants don’t believe it. The agreement at this year’s budget was the agreement by the Conservatives not Labour who voted against the proposals to spend £2million on consultants to persuade tenants to transfer to a Housing Association. This is very firmly a Conservative only policy driven be a desire to transfer Council Homes from the Borough Council control.)