This is my first blog for a while having been away on holiday for a refreshing break. It’s good to be back in the swing and helping Labour to set the agenda across our City. At the latest meeting of the Council we were successful in getting two Notices of Motion carried.
Protecting the Environment – Single-Use Plastics (SUPs)
The problem with single use plastics has been very much in the news recently. Tom Coole’s timely and successful motion committed the Council to take a lead in eliminating the use of single use plastic products at City Council run premises including the Guildhall and museums by 2020. It further committed the Council to work with our partners to reduce the unnecessary use of SUPs across the City.
Enhancing Democracy – Live-Streaming of Council Meetings
Neil Hampson moved a motion proposing that all future Council meetings should be live-streamed to enable residents who may struggle to attend Council meetings to be able to watch proceedings live online. The subsequent public availability of recordings of meetings would also provide a valuable resource. This is about opening up our procedures, improving transparency and bringing in public accountability. The more we can do to encourage citizen engagement and participation, the more we enhance local democracy. As a result of our motion, the Tories have agreed to submit a report to Cabinet examining the proposal but are worried about the cost (£10 - £15,000 per annum). We await the outcome of their deliberations with interest. If they can borrow £80 million for property speculation, £10-15,000 per annum seems a small price to pay for accountability. As my colleague Kevin Stephens said: “What price is democracy? It is priceless.”
Unfortunately, Kate Haigh’s motion urging the Council to support “Workers Memorial Day” on 28th April was defeated. If it had been successful, the motion would have committed the Council to holding a minute silence and for the Mayor and Sheriff to attend a vigil and act of remembrance on the day with the local Trades Council. To me, for the Tories to oppose this seems churlish and petty and their natural hostility to trade unions has prevented a very worthwhile initiative.
There are no elections taking place in Gloucester this year with the next City Council elections taking place in 2020. However, there are elections across the country, including London. Key battlegrounds in the South West are Plymouth and Swindon where Labour is seeking to regain control and Exeter where we expect to retain control and increase our majority. As we move into the next crucial phase of Brexit these elections will be a very big indicator as to where the parties stand. I wish all Labour candidates standing the very best of luck.