Saturday, 03 February 2007
Labour’s dismantling of the Council and disposal of public assets continued at the Executive Committee today (Friday), with Culture & Leisure and Car Parks to be hived off, and downgrading of Education and Social Work.
On all four of the above issues a vote was taken. Not surprisingly Labour won every time, given that the committee is packed with their councillors. A final decision on each topic will be made at full Council.
- Culture & Leisure Services
The proposed transfer to a trust moved a step forward despite arguments against by the SNP’s John Mason and LibDem’s Christopher Mason. Despite no public consultation, doubts over charitable status, uncertainty whether business rates will be saved, and lack of public accountability, Labour councillors merrily voted it through. Was this because they really believed in it or just because dismantling councils is the current fashion?
- Car Parks
The proposal is to transfer Council car parks to a limited liability partnership. Questions were asked about why the Council could not borrow the money for car park refurbishment without a transfer. The answers did not convince John Mason who said he saw this as yet another step to hive off parts of the Council.
- Downgrading of Education & Social Work
There might be an argument for combining Land Services and Environmental Protection. However, putting both Education and Social Work under one director is a huge mistake. Each of these departments is vital to the Council and to the Glasgow public. Both deserve a voice at the highest level. They should not be competing for the same director’s ear. In the debate it was pointed out the inconsistency of floating off Culture and Leisure while Education & Social Work were allegedly being better integrated.
- Executive Committee to Continue
The officers’ report stated that the new committee system was working well. This despite the great reduction in councillors’ involvement in decision-making and there being much less debate before decisions are made. The reports themselves were criticised as not being objective enough, not showing the downside, and being too close to the Labour group’s political thinking.