Rochford is Officially a Weak Council

Last Thursday the Audit Commission this week have issued a report on Rochford District Council – and they’ve given it a rating as “weak”. This has greatly upset the Tory Group, who like to give the impression that everything is wonderful and think the rating is unfair Actually they didn’t want to be inspected in the first place, and one senior councillor told the inspectors during a council meeting that they would lose their jobs under a future Conservative Government.This probably didn’t help!

You can find the report here

As we are the opposition group on the council, we suppose this gives us a great excuse to attack the Tories – but actually, we also think the rating is unfair, So this is the press release that we have issued, which gives a fairly balanced view of things:

?As the second largest group on Rochford District Council we think it is our duty to keep a close eye on how the council performs. We believe that the Audit Commission were wrong to class Rochford as a “weak” council. When the assessment took place took place six months ago Rochford certainly was not “weak”, in fact it wasn’t far away from being a “good” council. Our district gets an unfairly small share of government funding – if it was treated more fairly it could achieve a lot more.

Having said that, we know that the council did not present its best possible face to the inspectors. Having a councillor telling them that they would lose their jobs when the Conservatives won the next general election (which happened at a full council meeting) probably wasn’t the best way to get them on the council’s side.

However the verdict of the Audit Commission has been given and the council has to look to the future.

– The main policy success of the year – the expansion of the recycling programme -was nearly blocked by the anti-recycling element in the Conservative Group and might have failed without the active support given to it by Liberal Democrats.

– Too many council and committee debates are taken up with criticising the national Labour Government. We are not supporters of Messrs Blair and Prescott, but we are elected to work on local issues and not to waste valuable committee time on venting our feelings on national politics.

– The Conservatives need to start carrying out the overview and scrutiny process more thoroughly and make more attempts to scrutinise outside bodies on issues such as the lack of dentists and doctors, flood prevention, education etc.

– We need to support our officers and staff who may have been demoralised by this report.

There will be a lot more battles in the future to ensure our district gets proper funding and proper amenities. Looking around the council chamber at the mass of 32 Conservative Councillors, we can see they are mostly pleasant people – some are able (including Cllr Terry Cutmore the new leader). We need to see the energy and vitality necessary to fight the battles ahead.?

Signed by all 4 Members of the Liberal Democrat Group:
Chris Black Chris Lumley June Lumley Ron Oatham