Saturday, 14 December 2013

The art of opposition (2)

I have already commented on my bemusement at the tactics of Cllr Martin Terry and the rest of his Independent Party colleagues. To continue on this theme I would like to give them some helpful tips. The role of members is to decide policy taking account of the professional advice received from officers and then to oversee the implementation of that policy.This does not mean blindly following all advice received but understanding that expert advice and information is a support tool not a hindrance. This is of course in addition to supporting local residents etc. Even on technical items such as flood defence Martin and some of his colleagues continue to refuse to accept the technical advice received from officers and specialist advisers believing that they know better. With Martin this often seems to be based on his ability to use a google search. Repeatedly stating that they know better than experts does, in my view, make them look a little stupid and does not do any favours for members of the public who can be given false hopes or expectations. This is different from their group member Ric Morgan commenting on education where he clearly does have expertise in the area. There is a growing theme of objecting to various measures because they are intended to deliver savings. Well yes they are and the Indies know why the savings have to be delivered. If they want to block our attempts to deliver savings then where are they going to find the money from. It is easy simply to argue against any change but not an opportunity that the Administration has. I also feel that they have not got to grips with deciding which items are better scrutinised at the scrutiny committees and the matters which are better highlighted by a more public and show debate at full council. At the moment they seem to feel that they need to have the same debate twice failing to recognise the different strengths of the two meetings and the different opportunities they present. This also means that council meeting are over long and convoluted rather than being used to highlight one or two key policy areas where they disagree with the Administration's position. There are a number of members of the Lib Dem and Labour groups who have in my view a far better grasp as to the mechanics of the system and whilst I know that the Indies think that they are the only effective opposition group perhaps they should try taking a look at the others! Whilst I appreciate that there is no single or correct view as to the art of opposition I do feel that my colleagues in cabinet and I are well placed to judge the efforts of our opponents in Southend.

1 comment:

  1. This is a difficult one for me because I value democracy and would not want to prevent anyone having their chance to speak. However, I do take issue with those who claim there is no democracy merely because they have lost a vote. I find our democracy less than perfect, but it is a democracy. You realise that those whose egos are too substantial for the teamwork required to belong to a party cannot accept not getting their own way – therefore they seek conspiracy and dark deeds where the reality is their failure to persuade.

    I am not friend of your administration yet I side with you on the flood defences issue because (for a change!) you are taking a sensible decision.

    I think it acceptable to question experts, but at some point one has got to stop repeating oneself. For instance, I am still of the opinion that the shared space at Victoria Gateway is dangerous but declined the opportunity to re-state this on Thursday because I think I have said it often enough and know that on this issue I have lost the argument (for the moment, anyway). Similarly for the Cliffs Museum; at some point we have to move on, because fresh battles lie ahead.

    It was a bit odd that Cllr Woodley declined the opportunity for a vote when the second debate on the flood defences came around.

    You criticism of people’s oratory skills is unfair. Without naming names there are plenty of councillors whose skills lies some way short of your own very good standard, even amongst your own ranks. I always enjoy listening to you, even if I rarely agree with you. It is more important, though, what you say rather than how it is delivered. Despite my disappointment with his performance I find Cllr Longley and excellent speaker too; yet there are others whose abilities vocally are wanting but who nevertheless make some very good points.