The Full Council meeting at Luton Town Hall on Tuesday (20th May) came close to chaos when the Labour Council leader told Councillors not to ask questions about the details of a proposed agreement which would drastically change the way the Council operates for years to come.
The Local Area Agreement is intended to make the Council work in partnership with other local agencies including the Police, Health Services, Job Centre, local colleges and voluntary organisations.
“Liberal Democrats fully support partnership working,” says Liberal Democrat leader David Franks. “The partnership deal needs to have clear targets seeking improvements, it needs effective monitoring and reporting. If we get it right and make it work it should bring significant benefits to our community. It is an exciting opportunity.”
“But that’s no reason to blindly nod through a half baked plan with questionable targets which even the Council leader does not understand.”
Some of the questions that Liberal Democrats wanted to raise that the Labour leader refused to answer included:
Why are they planning for notably worse outcomes in the educational achievements of looked after children this year than was achieved by the Liberal Democrat administration in 2006?
Why is there a target of ‘no change’ for numbers falling out of work and into dependence on incapacity benefits? Why is there no aim to reduce the numbers?
Why is there an improvement target seeking to increase, not decrease, the numbers admitted to hospital with alcohol related injuries?
The Council leader had no answers to these and other questions and blusteringly demanded that councillors should not even be asking. She demonstrated the worst of Labour’s ‘we know best’ arrogant attitude.
“It’s obvious most members, including the Council leader, did not understand the full implications of what they were signing up to. This critically important agreement could bring major benefits to the town but will lead to drastic changes in the way things are done. It really is outrageous that the Labour leader of the Council demanded that no-one should be allowed to ask questions” says Cllr Franks.