Recent Questions to Full Council
Since being on Council Independent Chris Cooke has asked more questions at the formal Full Council question time than any other Councillor. Indeed sometimes he’s been the only Councilor asking any questions at all!
Here are some recent ones.
Full Council Meeting - 19th July 2005
1. "Reference 63 Sutton Avenue, Fazeley Road Estate. How long did it take contractors to refurbish and bring this property up to a Tamworth Borough Council acceptable letting standard from the time the previous tenants moved out until its present tenants moved in, how much did it all cost Tamworth Borough Council and is the Council to seek to recover any of the costs of this work from the previous tenants?"
(note reason for question - the house was allocated but the repair contractors took many weeks. By the time they had “finished” what was a beautiful home had been stripped of many items and assets (cookers, security systems etc.) and features had been destroyed, and the decoration had been wrecked - all apparently in the name of “council policy” - to the point where the new tenants were actually given a decoration allowance! We are assured that the items that disappeared ended up in skips and not anywhere else!)
2. "Cllr John Garner, was quoted in the Tamworth Herald recently as saying Councillors should be given wages instead of allowances. Does the Leader of the Council agree with his Cabinet member that Tamworth Borough Councillors should become Council employees?"
(reasoning - If Cllr Garner wants to be a Borough Council employee - he should apply at the personnel dept just like everybody else!)
Full Council Meeting - 25th October 2005
(question 1) "Could the Portfolio Holder for Housing please tell me how the Amington M.U.P.A play area was put forward for planning approval without any consultation taking place with local residents? And how this application became the remit of the Housing department? And could he confirm that in future public consultation will always be a feature of such planning applications?"
(question 2) "Can the Leader of the Council please explain how the removal of Saturday cashiering from Marmion House can be described as "improving customer choice"? Does the Council have other plans to further remove Council face to face cashiering facilities?"
(question 3) "As I have been unable - over many months of trying now - to get breakdown figures from the Council used to separate leaseholders' service charge costs from normal Council property costs can the Portfolio Holder for Housing give leaseholders an absolute commitment that a) No leaseholders money will ever be used to cross-subsidise council accommodation, and b) that he will look into the matter with a view to getting me the relevant breakdown figures I have asked for as soon as possible?"
(note - this question was part of an ongoing campaign against the Council’s new service charges policy. The policy has now been withdrawn after a legal challenge).
Full Council Meeting - 20th December 2005
1. Could the Leader of the Council please advise me what are the total number of complaints against Tamworth Borough councillors so far referred to the Standards Board for England? Of these how many were from complaints by
a. other Tamworth Borough Councillors?
b. Non Officer employees of Tamworth Council?
c. Officers of Tamworth Borough Council?
d. Officials or councillors from other authorities?
e. members of the public?
(note - having been the butt of what I believed to be a frivolous complaint by Council officers recently - I wanted to show how this Code was being used not by members of the public - but for what I believed to be internal politics. Out of seventeen complaints made so far not one had been made by any ordinary member of the public)
2. Could the Leader of the Council please explain to me how the new rule of restricting councillors from receiving confidential documents of Council business - unless councillors specifically request the information - might be considered any sort of protection against breaches of confidentiality?
(interesting email thread link here on this subject of confidentiality between myself and the Chief Executive)
3. Can the Leader of the Council please explain the implications - for the Council and their leaseholder residents - of the recent Leasehold Valuation Tribunal Hearing decision against Tamworth Borough Council?
Full Council Meeting - 21st February 2006
1. "Each year Tamworth Borough Council produces a document called availability Of Residential Land - Windfall Sites'. In previous years sites that have been given planning permissions that were also subject to section 106 agreements not yet signed had this information noted alongside. Yet for the October 2005 update such sites have been left out of the document altogether. Could you please tell me how the decision to leave out such sites out of this document was taken, and by whom, and what was the reason that decision was taken?"
2. "Following reports in the Tamworth Herald about our Tamworth Castle monument cracking up, can Cllr Beale tell me when were the teams of structural engineers contracted to look at the Castle Mound, how much is the whole survey likely to cost, and when might we as Councillors expect to be appraised of the matter, and when might a final report be available?"
Note - the point in this question was that the “movement” of the mound that engineers believed they had detected may have been caused by some recent removal of trees from the mound)
Full Council Meeting - 18th May 2006
1. "94 Carlcroft is a flat that has been repossessed by Tamworth Borough Council for a number of months now. Can you tell me the exact date it came back into council possession, why it is still empty after all these months and how much so far this has meant in lost rent and council tax?"
2. "Ever since becoming a Councillor I have tried to get the drains unblocked of compacted litter on the parade in front of the Glascote Heath shops. They have never been cleaned. The responsibility lies with Tamworth Borough Council. Can you tell me which department is responsible for ensuring these drains are kept clear and which contractor has been given the task of doing the work?"
(Note - They said they clean these drains every year - can you believe that?)
Full Council Meeting - 20th June 2006
1. This first one addressed to Cllr John Garner as the relevant Portfolio Holder. But I will rely on your judgement as to whether that is true in this case - or whether it might be a more suitable question for the leader.
"Exactly three years ago in the State of Tamworth Debate I asked that this Council put together a proper anti-social behaviour policy. Three weeks ago I enquired about such a policy to be told it was "being worked on". Could you tell me by what date this Council will have the completed, joined up, comprehensive anti-social behaviour policy its residents deserve, and for its officers to follow?
2. This second question needs to be addressed to Cllr Jeremy Oates as the Leader of the Council.
Is the Leader aware that the disallowing of any amendments at all in the recent Council Local Plan Debate has set a dangerous legal precedent which negated the amendment provisions of our Council Constitution, and that issue needs to be resolved? Can he confirm that he will be having talks with the Legal Officer to ensure this cannot happen again?
Full Council Meeting - 24th October 2006
Question 1. To John Garner - Portfolio Holder for Community and The Environment.
"Did Tamworth Council produce a risk assessment around the health and safety of operatives and residents when it introduced Tamworth's present recycling and waste disposal systems? What were the results of that risk assessment?"
Question 2 directed to the Council Leader Cllr. Jeremy Oates.
"Following The Council Leader's decision to refuse to allow me to speak on the Asbestos and Legionnaires Disease Cabinet agenda item 9 at last Wednesdays meeting, would Cllr Jeremy Oates please explain why it is now believed reasonable to require that all Councillors (I presume it must apply to all councillors?) now have to give a mandatory 24 hours notice of asking to speak on any Cabinet agenda item - and why this notice is necessary - and how Councillors can be expected to abide by such a notice provision when a relevant report is not received until the very eve of that Cabinet meeting - and whether the leader took officer advice before coming to his decision. Will the Leader now make provisions for this new arrangement to be included in an updated Council Constitution?"
Full Council Meeting - 27th Febraury 2007
Question 1. "Could Cllr Mrs Oates, Portfolio holder for Housing please tell me how many dwellings out of Tamworth Council's current housing stock are classified as
b. Studio Flat
c. 1 Bedroom Flat
This second question is addressed to Cllr Jeremy Oates as Leader of the Council (or the relevant portfolio holder).
Question 2. "Tamworth Council is responsible for subsidising reduced fares on Tamworth's Arriva Buses. Since Arriva has decided to accept only one form of ID for concessionary fares for young people (a card called CitizenCard) does Leader of the Council accept that our Council has a duty to scrutinise this decision of Arriva, including the suitability of the CitizenCard itself, and the process Arriva took to make this decision."
(NOTE - I haven’t put down answers or even the supplementaries I usually ask here - it’s all too much - at least the reader gets a gist of what’s going on. But on this last question here instread of answering it (and many questions really receive very little in the way of what I would call a proper answer) he instead launched into a scornful and personal attack on me! Wonder why? Anyway there were some emails flying about afterwards - read them here. )