A bumper crop of 22 questions this month. The joy!
LibDem Leader Hereward Cooke (Lakenham) kicked off by asking if the council would use the powers in the Clean Neighbourhoods Act to set up a partnership agreement to help clean off grafitti faster. Although we all wanted Executive Member Julie Brociek-Coulton to say "no, actually, we'd rather like to keep the city looking a right state thank you" in answer to such an obvious and patronising question, she actually said that this was already on the agenda.
Tory Group Leader Antony Little (Bowthorpe) then asked how much the government's concessionary bus fare scheme had cost the City Council, a theme picked up by the EDP the following day. Brian Morrey, Executive Member, gave a reply that was deliberately complicated and threw figures around hoping nobody could put them together. Morrey was then pressed to give a yes or no answer to the simple question if the government has underfunded the council for this scheme. Far from the lack of knowledge, which he claimed to the EDP, Morrey told the council he wouldn't give the answer because he's "get into trouble". I am still awaiting the answer.
Backbencher John Wyatt (C, Bowthorpe) is developing a habit of asking rather detailed and annoying questions in council. He requested information regaring the funding and location of the City's new council houses. Although Council Leader Steve Morphew gave an explanation of the funding formula he admitted they didn't know where the homes would be built. Cllr Wyatt then asked if he would confirm that no green spaces or gardens would be lost. Cllr Morphew clearly struggled with this - one council house in poor condition may be knocked down to make way for new flats, he said, and thus gardens may be lost that way. Overall, the council still has no clue where the houses will go.
The Livestock Market is going to stay where it is, according to Labour's Alan Waters in reply to a question from Eve Collishaw (C, Catton Grove), although Cllr Collishaw hit back by asking why council officers were making it hard for the market to open. Although Cllr Waters denied this, we were left with the feeling that this issue may yet return.
Music loving Jeremy Hooke (LibDem, Thorpe Hamlet) asked if the council has considered bring the BBC Proms in the Park to Norwich. Deputy Leader of the Council Brenda Ferris replied that plans were in the pipeline and both Cllrs looked very happy with their days work.
Long suffering Carl Mayhew (LibDem, Mile Cross) has been ill for two meetings in a row but came to ask what the council were doing to ensure that youth groups applied for funding for sport and community development. He was then provided with such a long list that you wonder why the question had to be aked in the first place.
LibDem Joyce Divers (Thorpe Hamlet) wanted to know if the council will bear the cost of redecorating if their tenants property is damaged by works. Cllr Westmacott said it wasn't the case.
Post Office's were the subject of a rare question from Jill Surridge (LibDem, Thorpe Hamlet) who faces the battle of her life to hold her seat from the Greens in a few months time. Labour's response was that Scrutiny Committee should cross question the Post Office about their plans. Not a good performance and not good enough to hold her seat.
Pigeon control was the subject of Cllr Diane Lowe's question. The LibDem member for Mancroft wanted to know if the process was humane. The council admitted they had no policy on pigeon control. Then came one of the classic moments in the chamber - Cllr Lowe asked why the system pioneered by the last LibDem Council was been dumped. After conferring with her Leader, Cllr Brociek-Coulton said that the scheme was too expensive and was typical of the LibDems. Hangbags at dawn!
LibDem war-horse Judith Lubbock (Eaton) always seems to open herself to attack. She asked why there wasn't more progress towars the 20mph blanket speed limit for suburban roads. This allowed Labour's Brian Morrey to go for the jugular and remind Cllr Lubbock that she was on the committee that made this decision and it wasn't entirely in the hands of the City Council. Although Cllr Lubbock comes up with good questions she normally ends up looking foolish by then end - its quite a talent, really.
Labour backbencher David Bradford (Crome) asked the first of two rather obvious questions to his own side about the new choice-based lettings system. It gave Cllr Westmacott the chance to go on about how great it was and how well it would work. Is this really a good use of council time? Labour would argue it helps get information into the public domain - have they heard of a press release?
Then up came Brenda Ferris (Lab, Bowthorpe). She asked about safety on the Prince of Wales Road and it was not lost on the opposition parties has stupid it looked for the Deputy Leader of the Council to be asking this of her own administration! Anyway, of course things had got a lot safer and her second question asked a Labour Councillor to congratulate the Labour Council on their law and order record. Of course, he did!
The ongoing spat between Labour Leader Cllr Morphew and LibDem Tourism Spokesman Brian Watkins (Eaton) continues with some rather good scrutiny of the 5 year tourism plan. Cllr Morphew said that everything would be ready for the New Year. Cllr Watkins made a good fist of attacking Labour's drift and indecision on the issue. This issue will run and run.
Cllr Rupert Read (Green, Wensum) asked how the council would reduce their massive taxi bill and encourage mor environmentally friendly transport. Cllr Waters said that a lot of encouragement was made for people to walk and cycle. Cllr Read suggested that more encouragement be applied because it clearly wasn't working. This was put in such a humourous way I didn't hear the answer because I was laughing. Sorry.
Wi-Fi was bought up again by the Green Group and asked for it to be shelved whilst health fears are dealt with. Labour's Cllr Morrey gave the same answer as he had given before, except adding that CCTV depends on Wi-Fi and thus the Greens must be arguing against CCTV. The questioner, Cllr Adrian Holmes (Green, Wensum), was confused as he didn't ask about CCTV.
Cllr Llewellyn (Green, Wensum) wanted to ask if the council didn't use any companies involved in the current Burmese problems. The council replied that it didn't.
Cllr Jago had been informed that if you want to take a lot of garden waste to Swanton Road then you need to phone ahead in advance. Cllr Brociek-Coulton was confused as when she went nobody stopped her - although perhaps they didn't dare! Cllr Jago, who represents Mancroft for the Greens, wanted assurances and got them.
Cllr Ramsay, the Green Leader and Member for Nelson Ward, asked why potholes in some roads weren't filled in. He was given a technical explanation.
Cllr Bearman (Green, Town Close) asked why puddles were forming on Unthank Road where the recent road works took place. The Council thanked her for the information and said they would look into it. The issue, that is, not the puddle.
The Scrutiny Chairwoman Claire Stephenson (Green, Nelson) was furious that a SNAP meeting that included part of her ward wasn't advertised to the ward members, including herself. This was, apparently, an oversight and wouldn't be repeated.
The other-Cllr Little (Green, Town Close) asked why residents found it was taking so long to recieve a new green recycling box. Again, another council cock up and the backlog was being cleared.
Finally, Cllr Bob Gledhill (Green, Nelson) asked about tree planting in his ward although I fear nobody was up to hearing the answer.
And that was that for another month!