It has been very quiet for the past few months on the Greater Cambridge City Deal but it looks like things are getting moving again.
I and other members of the Assembly and the Board had a coach ride a few weeks ago around Milton Rd and Histon Rd to see what the problems were there. All very interesting and quite a lot of it very worrying.
You may or may not know that, before the election, Cllr Ray Manning stood down from the Board and put Cllr Francis Burkitt in his place. Francis was already on the Assembly and had been a useful member on a number of issues. The problem for me is that this also gives him a place on the South Cambs District Council cabinet (for which he receives an allowance). This is different to every other member involved in the GCCD. Also, cabinet members (or port folio holders as they also called) at the Council hold regular ( and sometimes not so regular) portfolio holder meetings which the rest of us, and members of the public, are able to attend and often to participate in. It is a really good opportunity to find out what is going on and to question the decision makers about the decisions they are taking and the areas they are responsible for. I was aware that Cllr Burkitt had not set any dates for his meetings and so at last week’s Annual Council Meeting I asked the following:
“The new cabinet member for the City Deal has not yet set any dates for his portfolio holder meetings. When might we expect these to commence, how often will they take place and how will he use them to include members in scrutiny of the City Deal and in its processes and decision making?”
The response was that he was NOT going to be holding any portfolio holder meetings.
My follow up question was going to be:
“Does Cllr Burkitt think it is morally acceptable that he is the only member of the Assembly or the Board to be paid an allowance by the tax payer specifically for that role”.
However, some information which had come to me earlier in the day encouraged me to change my supplementary question to:
I there any truth to the wide spread rumour that the GCCD Board has been having closed meetings to decide what elements of the current City Access Study should go forward for discussion to the GCCD Assembly and is this not the complete opposite of what the governance dictates is the right and proper process?”
The answer was that the GCCD Board did have ‘informal briefings’.
There is an invitation only briefing next Tuesday on the results of the Histon Rd and Milton Rd consultation. I shall report on that as soon as I can.