Sunday, 21 August 2011

I need to improve what I do with the Web!!!!

Having been one of the key players in getting the information flowing better from the town council, (We now publish a update in the Marlborough Town and Country free monthly Magazine delivered free to 7000 homes in the Marlborough area.), I now feel I should be doing more myself!

So, I am going to try and bring the chat and chill blog back to life... interact more with Marlborough News On line . Hopefully explain what the go head team of councillors are trying to achieve, take feedback comment etc and redress the balance regarding the actions and behaviour in meeting of some councillors....

Lets see how it goes!

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Why do recyclers leave their car engines running?

In Marlborough at the George Lane car park, we have almost the perfect combination of supermarket car park with recycling facility...

You have a large shop to do so need to bring the car in to carry the shop home, so quite correctly load up the cardboard and plastic and drop it off at the recycling skips. Great! But why oh why negate the entire process by keeping the engine running?

It's not everyone but enough for me to notice! Why not park in that section of the car park and walk up to Waitrose and push the trolley back to the car and get some exercise as well. Reducing your petrol used as well... I guess if I was braver would say something rather than blog about it. rant rant rant..

Monday, 12 January 2009

Two councillors missing tonight at full Town council

Well, another full town council tonight and we find a district and county councillor not attending and not sending any apologies.

I hear they are on a cruise....ho hum...But we got through a lot tonight. I'll be writing about important agenda items over the next few days. As these two councillors will be standing for in Unitary elections in June this year, given their attendance record at Marlborough Town Council I certainly wont be voting for one of them to my Unitary councillor!

I asked four questions of Marlborough County and Town councillor, Marian Hannaford-Dobson, last night which remain unanswered as she was not present last night. I post here for my public record and I will, of course, post any answers here when I get them. Unless Cllr Hannaford-Dobson wishes to reply here herself!!!

Question 1. Wiltshire County Council, (WCC), ratified the Primary Healthcare Trust, (PCT), decision to close the Minor Injuries Unit at Savernake Hospital. What I would like to understand is how this was brought to the attention of County Councillors, (this is Question 1a)? Also is there any documentation that showed the lobbying of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to try and retain the MIU at Savernake, (this is Question 1b)?

The reason for asking this question is to understand current process and ensure as we move to Unitary what new processes need to be put in place to ensure that such calamitous actions do not befall the people of Marlborough or any town in Wiltshire in the future. I am such the Councillor will have great sights as to what went on and how she attempted to prevent the MIU closure.

Question 2. Can the County Cllr please report to the Marlborough Town Council how the WCC or Unitary council Executive will calculate 2009/10 round of council tax. I have heard that the highest District tax across the County will be applied plus a 3.5% to 5% increase. Could the Cllr please confirm if this in fact the current thinking, (this is Question 2a)? Would the please explain efforts she is making get the WCC/Unitary to set a Zero percent increase in the bulk of the Council Tax and follow the Marlborough Town Council lead setting a ZERO percent precept, (this is Question 2b)?

Question 3. Could the loop road from the A4 to Manton High Street to Clatford back to the A4 be included in the gritting Programme? In the current cold conditions there were three minor accidents and Preshute Primary School service bus the St Johns School bus struggled in the conditions.

Question 4. Is there any update on the Children at Play warning signs for Jubilee field play area in Manton?

I'll write more about the meeting in other posts as there was some interesting agenda items.

Yours sincerely

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Finance and Policy meeting 5th Jan 2009

Its a Monday night, the 5th of Jan in fact, therefore its a Council meeting. Tonight its a Finance and Policy meeting, (F&P), we looked at setting the Precept based on our budget planning sessions over the the last couple of months.

We have been faced with a complex position. The Council Auditors stated we had no reserves when I first joined the the council. So just as a director of a company in trouble we took action last year to ensure we could meet the Auditor requirement and allow us to plan to developments in the town that we can afford and improve the quality of life in the town.

I am very thankful we took the action we did last year in building a reasonable reserve. As this has a created the Town Council a breathing space in the current economic climate. Unfortunately the Vice Chair of F&P couldn't make the meeting tonight but his statement read as part of the Chairman's Announcements explains things rather well. I'm sure he would be happy for me to give his words a wider airing....

"Last year we took the bold decision to rebuild our depleted reserves, which I believe was a sensible and unavoidable policy. One intention was that, once we had rebuilt the required reserves, we could begin to reinvest in the community in a responsible way.

Next year's provisional budgets have been successfully kept below inflation (our biggest increase being the national pay awards which we have no control over), and, hopefully, one of the outcomes of the staff appraisals will be that we conduct a series best value analyses to seek ongoing improvements in our economies.

But we should not be insensitive to the current difficult economic conditions. Although recent inflation has been quite high, we may now be entering a period of negative real interest rates, and that will have an appreciable impact on most citizens of Marlborough.

I believe that given our previous prudent action, we can justify slightly slowing down the rebuilding of our reserves and give immediate aid to the pocket of our tax-payers, by either freezing our precept or reducing it by, say, 2.5%, which is my preference. This would have the effect, I believe, of taking 3 months longer to restore a normal level of reserves.

Although the impact of such a change to the precept is relatively insignificant to the overall council tax bill, I believe that, in making this reduction, we can set the tone for how a sensitive and responsible council can respond to current economic decisions, and hope that District and County councillors will be able to achieve similar results when setting the main components of our council tax bill."

People are caught up in headlines. When they read MARLBOROUGH COUNCIL TAX TO RISE BY X%, they instantly jump to the idea we are talking about the WHOLE COUNCIL TAX costs to you. In reality the Marlborough Precept is around 5% of the total "COUNCIL TAX". So when we have Councillors who are also District and county Councillors, writing to the papers about how they are fighting to cut costs. They question should be asked of them what are they doing to help keep the rest of the Council Tax as low as possible? Ask your county councillor what have they actually achieved on that front?

The town council funding got into the dangerous state, at the end of the last council due to balance sheets being sound, (on the face of it), when in reality the Councillors didn't have a clue as to the real meaning of what they were being asked to approve. That is very clear from the deficits run up, as that includes the councillors who claim to be fighting to cut costs. How is it they have just woken up to the idea of economic management? We are now fortunate to have a Chair of Finance Cllr Andy Ross, an accountant who can really spell out what is practical and what is not and the true meaning of the balance sheet of "Town of Marlborough".

Tonight we voted for the the Marlborough Precept not to change at all this coming year. That is a 0% increase on 5% of your council tax bill, if its a approved by full town council next week. The worry is what will the percentage increase be on the other 95% of your council tax bill be?

Any way, please tell me what you think. Your comments will help shape the debate in general...

Yours sincerely