Council hubs axe temporarily blocked

Council hub axe temporarily blocked

Council hub axe temporarily blocked

First published in Local
Last updated
Kidderminster Shuttle: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

ANGRY councillors have temporarily blocked the "arbitrary" and "wrong" decision by Wyre Forest District Council's cabinet to axe hubs in Stourport and Bewdley.

The local authority's special overview and scrutiny committee voted yesterday evening to refer the decision on the fate of the customer service centres to next Wednesday's full council meeting instead.

Several members spoke passionately in support of the hubs calling them vital for elderly and vulnerable residents, but Conservative cabinet member Nathan Desmond, who made the money-saving call, said both sites had seen "a colossal reduction in usage" making the evidence for change "compelling".

The delay was approved in dramatic fashion as two proposals were tied six votes apiece and in both instances Councillor Liz Davies' casting opinion, as chairman of the committee, swung the tide in favour of referral to the full chamber.

Discussion of the matter was triggered when both Independent Community and Health Concern (ICHC) and the UK Independence Party (UKIP) submitted "call in requests", the first in Wyre Forest for 10 years, to challenge the cabinet's actions.

The ICHC document stated "it is wrong for a single member to make this crucial decision without a full and proper debate" and called for a review into "alternative methods of funding this operation instead of making an arbitrary decision to close".

UKIP's submission similarly argued there was "no consultation with residents or councillors including Stourport and Bewdley town councillors regarding the closure of the hubs".

At yesterday's meeting Labour councillor Vi Higgs said "I am very, very disappointed" while ICHC councillor Cliff Brewer stated "it seems totally wrong to me that a decision of this magnitude can be taken willy-nilly".

Labour councillor Lynn Hyde added "what is to stop you doing the same to the Kidderminster hub next year?" and UKIP councillor Michael Wrench suggested if other members followed the lead of his party and took a reduction in allowances the council would have the money to save the hubs.

Conservative council leader Marcus Hart, who delegated responsibility for the decision to councillor Desmond, however defended the cabinet and the "strong leader" model.

He said: "The reason this decision has been made is to protect and preserve frontline services.

"This council is not run by dictators, it is run by consensus."

For background details on the cabinet decision see The Shuttle's coverage here.

Comments (7)

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11:37am Thu 24 Jul 14

emjaypee says...

I bet Michael Wrench's comment re: councillor allowances was met with a unanimous silence from the other parties.
"We are all equal but some of us are more equal than others" as a well known author once wrote.
I bet Michael Wrench's comment re: councillor allowances was met with a unanimous silence from the other parties. "We are all equal but some of us are more equal than others" as a well known author once wrote. emjaypee
  • Score: 12

1:25pm Thu 24 Jul 14

Stephen Brown says...

Priceless! Cllr Hart says "This council is not run by dictators, it is run by consensus".

Maybe he should have said "This council is not run by dictators, it is run by a consensus of dictators". It's called 'cabinet' and let's the self elected Tory cabinet do as they please.

The sooner the other parties pool together to rid us of cabinet governance the better. They can do it but do they have the guts to do it?

The self interested, self-centric decision making would then come to an end and we'd return to proper scrutiny and inclusive decision making; so things like new council HQ's, centralised leisure centre, allowances, ward boundaries, lost hubs, and yes and other financially wasteful ideas would be decided by all and not the cosy few who currently make such decisions without feeling the heat and challenge of proper debate.
Priceless! Cllr Hart says "This council is not run by dictators, it is run by consensus". Maybe he should have said "This council is not run by dictators, it is run by a consensus of dictators". It's called 'cabinet' and let's the self elected Tory cabinet do as they please. The sooner the other parties pool together to rid us of cabinet governance the better. They can do it but do they have the guts to do it? The self interested, self-centric decision making would then come to an end and we'd return to proper scrutiny and inclusive decision making; so things like new council HQ's, centralised leisure centre, allowances, ward boundaries, lost hubs, and yes and other financially wasteful ideas would be decided by all and not the cosy few who currently make such decisions without feeling the heat and challenge of proper debate. Stephen Brown
  • Score: 9

8:50pm Thu 24 Jul 14

qwertyz says...

Surely if the number of people using them has dropped by such a large amount, its time to rethink? Can't justify my council tax paying for someone to deal with 5 people a day. Why is this all about political point scoring and not about how best to spend the tax payers money? What about the people who live in harvington, chaddesley, wolverkey, cookley, rock etc who have to travel? Its a no brainer if you ask me.
Surely if the number of people using them has dropped by such a large amount, its time to rethink? Can't justify my council tax paying for someone to deal with 5 people a day. Why is this all about political point scoring and not about how best to spend the tax payers money? What about the people who live in harvington, chaddesley, wolverkey, cookley, rock etc who have to travel? Its a no brainer if you ask me. qwertyz
  • Score: 6

9:14pm Thu 24 Jul 14

Stephen Brown says...

The problem is the services and accessing them have now been designed by the council to frustrate people from using them by visiting them. Folks are forced to access them in the way the council prefers, not necessarily in the way people would prefer. It causes the drop in traffic hence the descion to close them as politicians say "look no one is using them now so we should shut them and centralise everything". It's deliberate service engineering. Politicians made those decision so it is quite legitimate to criticise the political descion making process. It's not point scoring. If it's about council tax, the council didn't need to buy new HQ buildings amongst other things.
The problem is the services and accessing them have now been designed by the council to frustrate people from using them by visiting them. Folks are forced to access them in the way the council prefers, not necessarily in the way people would prefer. It causes the drop in traffic hence the descion to close them as politicians say "look no one is using them now so we should shut them and centralise everything". It's deliberate service engineering. Politicians made those decision so it is quite legitimate to criticise the political descion making process. It's not point scoring. If it's about council tax, the council didn't need to buy new HQ buildings amongst other things. Stephen Brown
  • Score: 2

9:32pm Thu 24 Jul 14

qwertyz says...

Don't you mean designed by the government? 'Digital by default'? Not by those who can't use these methods but if there are alternatives (Kidd, phone, web) then I would rather see this way forward than spending our tax keeping open offices that clearly aren't being used enough to justify keeping them open?
Don't you mean designed by the government? 'Digital by default'? Not by those who can't use these methods but if there are alternatives (Kidd, phone, web) then I would rather see this way forward than spending our tax keeping open offices that clearly aren't being used enough to justify keeping them open? qwertyz
  • Score: 6

3:29pm Fri 25 Jul 14

walkerno5 says...

"Discussion of the matter was triggered when both Independent Community and Health Concern (ICHC) and the UK Independence Party (UKIP) submitted "call in requests", the first in Wyre Forest for 10 years"

Is that true? I thought there was a call in a few years back on a parking issue possibly? Fran, are you about, I had it in mind you talked about it on the old WFA site?
"Discussion of the matter was triggered when both Independent Community and Health Concern (ICHC) and the UK Independence Party (UKIP) submitted "call in requests", the first in Wyre Forest for 10 years" Is that true? I thought there was a call in a few years back on a parking issue possibly? Fran, are you about, I had it in mind you talked about it on the old WFA site? walkerno5
  • Score: 0

9:19pm Sun 27 Jul 14

Green Olive says...

The cabinet system is a good example of our rotten electoral system. How can it happen that the Tories who got less than one third of the votes in the May election should have total control of the council. The cabinet system allows a party which does not have the support of the majority of voters to take control of the council and exclude all other parties. The opposition parties could cooperate to overturn the awful cabinet system and bring in a committee structure but we desperately need a fairer voting system.
The cabinet system is a good example of our rotten electoral system. How can it happen that the Tories who got less than one third of the votes in the May election should have total control of the council. The cabinet system allows a party which does not have the support of the majority of voters to take control of the council and exclude all other parties. The opposition parties could cooperate to overturn the awful cabinet system and bring in a committee structure but we desperately need a fairer voting system. Green Olive
  • Score: 4

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