“Welcome to our blog. The Lichfield Labour Group will be writing here to keep you up to date with the work of Labour’s District Councillors in Lichfield and Burntwood.”
- LDC AGM – Cllr Dave Robertson
Lichfield District Council’s Annual General Meeting was held on Tuesday and our newly strengthened Labour contingent was very happy to take their seats and give a voice to those communities we represent.
The agenda for the meeting had 14 items, but most of these were dealt with very quickly. I’ve covered all of the ones which involved serious debate below, but in reality the meeting focussed around electing Councillors to various roles, constructing all of the committees for the year and discussing two motions that were brought by the Conservative group.
Conservative majority ensured that Conservative Members were elected as Chairman (I agree, this is a very outdated name, but more on that later) and Vice-Chairman with very little discussion beyond being moved and seconded. The Labour Group abstained on both of these votes.
Following the acceptance of the accuracy of some minutes we moved to the election of the Leader and Deputy leader of the Council. Here the Conservatives moved their candidates, Doug Pullen and Iain Eadie.
The Labour Group leader, Steve Norman, took the chance here to speak against the appointments, not to attack and undermine the individuals, but to remind all those present that the Conservative Government has subjected the country to almost a decade of cruel and unnecessary austerity. The Labour Group opposed the election of a Conservative Leader, all other opposition Councillors abstained.
Following this we agreed the make-up of the various committees and scrutiny groups and raised the idea again that opposition Members should chair the overview and scrutiny committees to ensure their effectiveness, particularly in the wake of the Friarsgate fiasco. The Conservative members voted this down and so the committees will continue to be chaired by members of the controlling group.
The final two items of the agenda were debated and Labour members spoke on both. First was a request for enabling works for HS2 to be paused until the final scheme has the go-ahead. This item was vocally supported by Conservative members, and I was proud to make my maiden speech in the chamber to add my voice to those supporting the motion.
The entire project is coming under increased scrutiny and one Tory ex-MP was even on the radio last week suggesting that the plan could be scrapped north of Birmingham; the environmental cost of HS2 has been well documented and it is sensible that if the scheme is in doubt or may be cancelled then the associated loss of biodiversity and ecology should be postponed until the final go-ahead has been given. As I said in my speech “we are all here to represent our constituents and that is what this proposal does.”
Finally a motion was put by the controlling group which requested an end to the archaic practice of referring to Women Councillors in a different manner to those of us who are men.
This motion was seconded by our own deputy-leader, Di Evans, and I was really proud to see two women councillors driving the agenda and reverse the historic inequality around this issue. Amongst various supporters from the Conservatives were Labour Councillors Rob Birch and Darren Ennis who were both supportive of the motion to end this practice.