Four meetings in two days, something like seven and a half hours in total.
Tuesday evening began with People Scrutiny Committee. I stayed for less than an hour (I was just a visitor) and so only heard the education items. The future provision of secondary places was one of the topics. It is likely that a new secondary school will be built at some point - well, that is my view anyway. I was on People Scrutiny in my first couple of years as a councillor; I enjoyed holding the administration to account over some pretty poor educational performances. I think that Cllr Anne Jones' tenure as portfolio holder saw some real improvements, and Cllr Courtenay has inherited an improved service.
Next up, a Rochford and Southend East Constituency Labour Party meeting in a crowded 268 Sutton Road. I counted 54 of us, and I was lucky to have a seat for the whole meeting; many were left to stand. It was an interesting meeting dominated by attempts to reorganize the local party. This is in response to the massive increase in membership, and reorganization must happen at some point. However, I am of the opinion that perhaps we ought to wait until after the boundary review, when the constituency will change. I also wonder whether current structure needs a little more time to really see if it needs improving.
The Essex Fire Authority meeting on Wednesday was short by their standards, just under two hours as I recall. There were a number of absentees, probably caused by the imminent County elections. The Lucas review (into the bullying culture) and the takeover of the EFA by the Essex PCC.
The Decant Policy at Policy and Resources Scrutiny Committee through up some interesting questions. The plans for Better Queensway, which will likely see significant decanting, was the cause of this policy being revised and brought forward. This could affect children, who may be face with longer journeys to school or temporary transfer of schools. Circa 250 households are likely to be decanted; some may end up being removed some distance, albeit temporarily, from their current homes.
Under Future Phases of the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Development Project we discovered that the council housing list increased by 33% in the last year (500, taking the total to 2000). Conservative Cllr Flewitt, portfolio holder for housing, described the situation as dire as he blamed his Government's austerity measures. Conservative Cllr Moring said that social tenants should be grouped together, as opposed to having mixed communities - in my opinion a most outrageous suggestion.
I sought assurances that there would be no more sell-offs of the council's miscellaneous properties - this assurance was not forthcoming.