And so did councillors gather and the meeting got to “Leader’s Announcement”, otherwise known as the gospel according to Cllr Phil Davies.
Cllr Phil Davies gave a prayer of thanks for Councillor Jeff Green and asked for his appreciation to be recorded.
He set out his priorities for the next year which of course include the 2020 pledges.
Three new Cabinet portfolios would be created, “Delivering Differently”, “Transformation” and “Finance and Regeneration”.
However “issues” had arisen in Children’s Services according to Phil. The Director of Children’s Services had resigned and his Cabinet Member had “stepped down” which Phil felt was the “right decision”.
Cllr Phil Davies continued, but as this is an election period, we have to provide some political balance on this blog.
But before that, some words from someone who isn’t allowed to be party political Madam Mayor. She was asked why she decided to stop around sixty councillors from speaking on this topic towards the end of the meeting.
Madam Mayor said, “Council, I have exercised at my discretion, I do not have to explain that to you! I’ve accepted it. You or any other Member of the Council, this is how we will proceed now.
This is going to be the order of speakers, Group Leader for the Conservative Group Cllr Ian Lewis (5 minutes), Group Leader for the Liberal Democrat Group Cllr Phil Gilchrist (5 minutes), Deputy Group Leader for the Conservative Group Cllr Lesley Rennie (3 minutes), the spokesperson for the Liberal Democrat Group Cllr Alan Brighouse (3 minutes), the Cabinet Member for Children and Family Services Cllr Bernie Mooney (3 minutes), the Leader of the Council Cllr Phil Davies (5 minutes).”
Cllr Ian Lewis said he had, “no faith whatsoever that the lessons have been learned or that this department is being well-led” and went on to say, “Madam Mayor, it is our view that such is the chaos in this department, that expecting this problem to be managed in-house is no longer feasible. Nor is it acceptable to expect unelected individuals to manage the department under the guise of an Improvement Board that meets in secret.
Extra support and guidance to this Council is required. Not one person on this Council can hold the Improvement Board to account in public. That is not good enough!
For that reason Madam Mayor, the Conservative Group will be asking for government intervention as we’ve seen in other failing authorities with similar cases as we’ve seen in the Liverpool Echo and other media over the last 48 hours.
Madam Mayor, whether this happens or not, the Conservative Group will not sit quietly while those in authority such as Cllr Davies utter platitudes and wring their hands. We will hold this administration to account, before, during and after the serious case review and at every opportunity from now on.”
Cllr Phil Gilchrist said, “The minutes of the Improvement Board are available in public on the Council’s website if Members wish to look for them. They record the contributions of Members I think fairly and accurately.
I do think that the Chair Eleanor Brazil is determined that things should improve and is keeping a very weather eye on it. I’m not in the business of rocking the boat when work is in hand and in progress. The issue is that the work is in progress, but incomplete.”
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Present at the start of the meeting was Cllr Meaden (as a deputy for Cllr McArdle), Cllr Brighouse (Vice-Chair), Cllr Stapleton, Cllr Kenny, Cllr Davies (Phil), Cllr Gilchrist (Chair), Cllr Keeley, Cllr McCubbin and Cllr Williams.
In addition the following Cabinet members (who aren’t part of the committee but their presence can be requested by the committee were present):- Cllr Jeff Green (Finance), Cllr Simon Holbrook (Corporate Services), Cllr Bob Moon (Social Care and Inclusion) and Cllr Lesley Rennie (Streetscene and Transport).