I can confirm that the Labour group believes we have an electoral mandate to form a minority administration after winning 9 out of 15 seats and the largest vote share. It's not the easy option but it is the right thing to do to stand up for Reading. Bollocks. Get a majority and then you have an electoral mandate.
Labour has increased it's Howarthian orthography alert! position as the largest party but we are still a seat away from being able to take control. We are currently in discussions with the other groups, including as has been reported in the press with the Green party councillors. completely pointless to have discussions with no result Jo Lovelock and Tony Page have written a public letter to the Green councillors which both states our position and answers specific questions that they have raised. The text is below (it's long!):
Dear Rob and Melanie,
Labour Group Priorities for 2011/12.
Thank you for meeting with Tony Page and myself v. poor use of pronouns, we are not working in a call-centre here last Thursday, 12th May. You asked us what our view was about the political situation the council finds itself in and about our priorities for the coming year were we the English subjunctive is becoming archaic but I'll let you off this time to form an administration. You also told us which issues are important to you.
With regard to the political situation in Reading we made it clear that as we had won 9 of the 15 seats and had increased our position as the largest Party we felt we have a mandate to seek to form an administration, albeit a minority one. Bollocks, see above. We also feel that the Conservative-led coalition has been rejected by Reading’s voters Also bollocks, see above and they do not have a right to continue in office. they have the right to continue to do what they choose with the group which has been elected, it is the people who speak Obviously you now have a choice of either
In terms of Labour’s priorities, we listed some last week and Labour’s full manifesto is available on Labour Party website (www.readinglabour.org.uk). To summarise the main commitments, they are as follows:
Radically re-organise no hyphen please, we are not in 1956 the Council and its services to deliver savings and protect people in need. you had 23 years to do that Labour will protect and improve services by giving local communities and service-users more influence over them. Instead of top-down control from the town hall, we will promote initiatives that hand more power to local people guided by the cooperative values of fairness, accountability and responsibility. what does this mean? there is at least one comma missing, to say nothing of the lack of intellectual coherence and, excuse me, content
Stand up for those least able to care for themselves. imperative now? who is being addressed here? Labour will work to re-invent superfluous hyphen alert the system of community care with the involvement of the retired, those approaching retirement and the families whose loved ones receive care. Labour will suspend the cuts to community care and undertake a full
review of the service to ensure no elderly person is left without support they need. reviews don't ensure anything, actions do
Involve the public more effectively and ensure that all voices in Reading are heard equally, by building new structures for involving the public: structures don't ensure anything, actions might properly representative service user panels, social networking groups, the council is already on Facebook isn't it? If not let's transform Reading by starting a Facebook page! traditional survey methods and in some cases local referenda to make sure everyone’s voice counts equally in Reading. this is truly desperate stuff; there is a simple way to ask the people to express their views. it's called an election.
Help local schools to do even better by working with local schools to raise standards, doing what exactly? continuing to export Reading children to other boroughs and the private sector? continuing to take action so what action is the Labour group taking in opposition now? that makes it easier for schools to work together on an area-by-area basis, pool resources, get better value for money and produce better results, and take legal advice on how to challenge Wokingham Council’s intention to exclude Reading children from Maiden Erlegh School. Basher's commitment, that he said had been agreed by the Labour Group, was to take immediate legal action against Wokingham. Why are you backsliding on that now?
Use the Council’s watchdog powers to stand up for the NHS. We will use these powers to hold the NHS to account in the interests of patients and will involve the public in doing so. We will resist the breaking up and privatisation of our NHS services by the Conservative-led government how? You are in opposition and Reading has two Tory MPs, something you campaigned for in Reading East and will use the influence of the Council to protect local, publicly provided and accountable health services.
Review the Green Bin fiasco introduced by the Conservative-led Council. and do what? you had 23 years to introduce a sustainable waste management policy and dragged your feet the whole time
Stand up for a cleaner Reading by making clean streets the Council’s priority, dealing with graffiti and looking after our parks and public spaces. the council is already doing this, so your policy is no change then?
Ensure that voluntary groups are recognised for the good work they are undertaking in the town, give them a badge? and that they are treated fairly and transparently when looking for funding from the Council. only if they use those funds to work for the Reading Labour Party We will ensure they can plan effectively for the future. how? this is meaningless guff
We also discussed the budget problems facing the Council, now we're back in the past tense, rendering the "also" redundant and the whole intellectually even less coherent which will be compounded next year by the further cuts imposed by the Tory-led coalition government. how do you know what is going to be in the next Queen's Speech? I have asked the Chief Executive for a full briefing on the scale of the budget gap predicted for next year, which we would be happy to share with you. await the full text with bated breath - prediction is we'll wait a long time. However is certainly our intention to use any channels we can to lobby the Government at all levels what, through the Reading East MP you campaigned for?to get a better deal for Reading’s residents and to involve residents in deciding priorities in the difficult financial situation we will inherit.
We discussed the position of the Mayor and made it clear that we had a Labour nomination. I don't think this has been made public - who is the putative nomination? You are well aware of the political implications of that and how your actions during the year would be perceived, particularly at important meetings such as the budget meeting, if there were to be a Conservative Mayor. yep, well spotted, that is why the Mayor must be a Conservative - the Mayor should not be a political pawn, ask Gul Khan I know you are being told that the Mayor is somehow “non political”. I would point out that there is a difference between
the ceremonial occasions and the chairing of a Council meeting, where all mayors vote with their own Political Group unless the majority party has such a large majority that it is unnecessary. A lie. Mayors vote as they choose and if they choose and should never be whipped. Whenever a Council is finely balanced the position of the mayor inevitably becomes highly political a lie and we have had a contested vote on the position of Mayor in the past when Reading has been under No Overall Control. that was entirely different and was a piece of spite against Fred Pugh, you bunch of lying scum If you support a Conservative Mayor you will in effect be making it very difficult for us to be certain of implementing some of the policies we will bring forward, many of which you say you support. that is why you must do it, Greens
With all policies, as has been our best practice for many years, we would fully involve ward councillors in the decisions on these issues as they develop as well as ensuring full public consultation. bollocks. you never did it when you were in control before so you won't start now. I remember meetings where it was firmly said by the leadership that ward councillors must be kept right out of the picture until the decisions were made and it was too late However, we firmly believe there must be a transparent process with criteria in place, which decide which communities should benefit from Council schemes and to explain this clearly to the public. this sentence grammatically so incoherent as to be effectively meaningless
It seemed to us following our discussion but how did it seem DURING the discussion? that we do share many priorities and commitments. On the specific issues you raised at the meeting:
Green Bin Collection – as set out above we would take early action to review the decision and promote the original scheme more widely. There would be an early report to cabinet on this. you've pledged no action, just a report
RCRE – as set out above we have been appalled by the way in which the Tories and Libs have treated RCRE and other voluntary sector groups. why were you even discussing RCRE? Specifically, I wrote to the Chair of RCRE in April promising
Community Care – As above our manifesto on eligibility criteria says that, "Labour will suspend the cuts to community care and undertake a full review of the service to ensure no elderly person is left without support they need." Also, I believe that you are aware of the legal requirement to go out to consultation again and then go to full Council for a policy change if the Council wants to go back to the position before the Coalition changed the policy. Therefore, if we form an administration we will bring a report hurray! to the June Cabinet, which sets up a new support/preventative scheme and outlines a new policy way forward. another report! hip hip hurray! Listen up Greens, loadsa luvly REPORTS coming your way!
A package of services will be agreed for all people currently on Greater Moderate and no-one will have their service changed until all have been assessed and an alternative policy/package agreed. A full report hurray! on this will go
to Cabinet in July. In outline on this, a package of measures to support people currently on greater moderate will be agreed, as will support for new people coming into the system. We can talk further in more detail on this if you wish; the alternative is to let the Coalition continue with their cuts. no specifics. what is currently being cut that would be uncut under your control?Bus Pass Concessions – As you will recall from our election literature, this is a priority for a Labour administration. Labour is committed to reinstating the bus pass concessions for people with disabilities and their carers/escorts, so that they can travel before 9.30a.m. If finances permit we would like to reinstate it for all senior citizens too, what happened to Labour's commitment to free bus passes for all pensioners? the one there was all the scaremongering about? Oh. the minute we get to specifics you recoil from commitment. but the cost may be prohibitive in the near future. What do we want? Incremental change! When do we want it? As resources allow! Hardly the municipal road to socialism, is it?
Ø Kennetmouth – Labour’s long-standing commitment to the protection of Kennetmouth remains absolute, Kennetmouth is not in Reading borough. and was reiterated in a major policy resolution we put through Council in June 2008. Any developments in East Reading are subject to that imperative.
Ø Third Thames Bridge – Labour has opposed the building of a Third Thames Crossing as a motorway link between the M40 and the A329. some of the time However, we believe that a third bridge, properly managed, controlled and integrated with the movements on Caversham and Reading Bridges could deliver major traffic reductions and significant environmental improvements on key radial routes such as the London and Wokingham Roads. Salter campaigned against this and you said nothing A project of this significance would require
Ø Cross Town Route – Labour was instrumental in defeating the original Berkshire County Council plans those were turned down by then Environment Secretary John Gummer, Conservative, the Reading Labour Group was in favour and I have a copy of an agreement to that effect between Reading and Berkshire councils signed by Cllr Page and then Cllr Salter we remain totally opposed to any car-based highway scheme that would threaten the environment of
Kennetmouth, the listed horseshoe bridge and King’s Meadow. the Labour Group has been in FAVOUR of all this since 1991, this is documented We are willing to consider, subject to full local public consultation, a
Using funding from a Renewable Energy Feed for Greener Warmer Safer - As you know the central government funding for this has ended. If this scheme is to continue we will need to find a creative way to fund it. Pity really, we've had to stop creaming off these funds for our own little projects We will explore with officers the possibility of
Food Waste Recycling – we are committed to the principle of this, but we're not going to do anything about it in case you Greens claim credit when we have investigated its introduction in the past, including through Environment Scrutiny, it has proved to be highly expensive. In the current financial climate, although we will look again at the costs, we may not to be able to implement such a scheme until it becomes financially viable.
Maiden Erlegh School – the Labour Party has made a manifesto commitment not to seek a new school in east Reading counsel’s opinion regarding a legal challenge to Wokingham Council. Basher told us the commitment was to TAKE legal action, he lied and so are you doing
It would be our intention to instruct officers to get that advice as quickly as
possible and take a report hurray! to cabinet as soon as possible.
Newtown Residents’ Parking – In the recent elections, Labour campaigned for a full consultation on a Resident’s apostrophe alert, we are not a greengrocer Parking scheme for eastern Newtown and it would be our intention to deliver on that pledge and give priority to consultation with residents based on an early report to Traffic Management Advisory Panel (TMAP), which would clearly set out all the pros and cons of any scheme. Reading Labour's transport policy is entirely petrol-headed and there is nothing there the Greens could or should support
20mph zones – It is our intention to promote the extension of 20mph zones in suitable residential areas of Reading, including Park Ward, subject to full public consultation, support from local residents and emergency services and adequate funding. We would seek advice on whether this could best be progressed on a town-wide basis or on an area basis. We would again envisage an initial report huzzah! to TMAP.
Cemetery Junction Area Study - within the current LTP schemes we intend to review priorities including item 26, which relates to Cemetery Junction and the A4 Study. We intend to bring forward a revised list not a report this time, a different kind of bit of paper to the Cabinet or a Council meeting. As has been the case in previous studies, this could but probably won't include looking at the de-cluttering of areas like the Wokingham Road shops.
Managing the East Reading Cemetery – you asked if the gate at the eastern end of the cemetery could be opened, at least during daylight hours, to allow residents the option of walking through the cemetery as an alternative to using pavements by the busy main roads.
We are suggesting that you bugger off we might broaden that to look at a cemetery management plan, which could include opening the gate, but would also ensure that the preservation of wildlife and the overall management of the area could
be improved. Obviously the wishes of relatives of people buried in the cemetery would need to be taken into account and we would also need to consult the police, with their use of the Arch and from a safety perspective.
I believe I have covered all the issues you raised last week and would be happy to clarify any points before you meet with your colleagues again. I have marked this letter as a draft in case there is a need for further written clarification, another report, yippee! which would be helpful before your meeting. Tony Page and I will be happy to discuss our proposals in more detail when we meet at 5.00 on Tuesday 17th May. I have booked Committee room 5 again for our meeting.
Lies and the lying liars, hein?