At Cambridge City Council’s annual meeting on the 27th of May 2010 Labour Councillor Lucy Walker put the following oral question to the Leader of Cambridge City Council Liberal Democrat Sian Reid:
What services will you be seeking to protect in response to the Coalition Government’s proposed stringent cuts to the Department for Communities and Local Government
Cllr Reid response didn’t really address the question in her response; she started by saying the council had lots of pressures and particularly the heavy burden of concessionary fares funding. She said that the council was involved in a wide range of shared services and joint working, and drew attention to a note she had circulated detailing existing joint working. This document was commended by many councillors during the debate on a motion about a unitary authority for the Cambridge area.
Cllr Reid’s note has not been included in the online papers for the meeting. I have been lobbying for some time for all documents tabled at meetings to be posted online along with the rest of the meeting papers, but the Liberal Democrats don’t appear keen on this idea which would increase openness and transparency; in fact they’ve previously argued that distributing documents at meetings amounts to making them public irrespective of if there were any press or public present or if the papers were distributed to them. In this case copies were available in the public gallery and I have made the document available online (351 Kb PDF) , but as an image based PDF it is harder to work with than it would be if the council had released the digital document.
Cllr Walker used her follow-up to push for an answer to her original question and suggest that as the cut to the Department for Communities and Local Government had been the biggest cut to any department surely that was not good news for local government.
Cllr Reid replied curtly and without substance saying that given the state of the country there was no good news for any department, but expressed her view that the cuts could be absorbed by removing “unnecessary organisation” and “unnecessary procedures” rather than cutting services. No examples of unnecessary activities ripe for cutting were offered by Cllr Reid.