Yesterday was full Council. The main topic was supposed to be a scrutiny report on sustainability and climate change produced by a Labour Councillor. The Post reported this as an attack on the leader of the Council even before they had had a chance to read it properly. The report's author announced that there was nothing in the report which could be considered as an attack on anyone but he was very subtle about it. Instead of attacking it head on we decided to take it on board, learn what lessons we could and carry out as many of the recommendations as possible. The main fun came when we had a motion congratulating the Housing dept on achieving 65% (?) of the Decent Homes Standard. This is always an open goal as the Labour administration were so bad at housing that anybody could have improved the situation. As it is we have over achieved and will complete the work before the target date of 2010. Labour try to come out fighting but always end up knocked out in the first round. Their previous housing cabinet members, there were so many of them, sit on there hands and pretend to be busy at something else. No change there then.
Afterwards there was a short debate on giving local people a say on how local budgets should be spent. Although the figure of £2m was spoken of in Erdington it transpired that this is not new money but just the budget that is already allocated. The thought of getting about 10.000 people to take part, let alone agree, is thought provoking. People always have lots of ideas how money should be spent but it will be interesting to see what they don't want it spent on. I suspect it will turn into a talking shop where special interest groups and Labour front organisations will be asked their "priorities" and officers will compile the budget as normal. A tip for any one going into local politics: when the officers take you through a budget, pay keen interest in the parts they don't show you.