Update on July's Full Council Meeting

July 18, 2018 12:34 PM

Universal Credit

At the July Full Council meeting Labour tried to 'transfer funds' to help smooth the introduction of Universal Credit to Derby. They claimed this could be done from budget under-spends. However, with the widely reported 'black holes' uncovered in the budget since Labour left office, there weren't any real budget under-spends to allocate. Lib Dem councillors proposed amendments to the motion to make sure that the Conservatives "carefully monitor the effects of the implementation of Universal Credit in Derby" and give their "best endeavours to ensure sufficient funding is available to support Derby residents in the transition period".

Cllr Ruth Skelton said, "We don't want anyone to face difficulties as their benefits change, but Labour couldn't commit the Council to spending non-existent money. Thanks to the Lib Dem amendment to Labour's rather woolly motion, action will have to be taken if things don't go smoothly."

Action on Air Quality

Derby is one of several cities that has to tackle its poor air quality after the campaigning charity, Client Earth, took the Government to court to force improvements. This was announced in 2016 and the Council must submit its plans by September. The previous Labour administration failed to submit any plans that would satisfy the court judgement. Yet Labour tried to push through a motion saying time was running out, and demanding that the new Cabinet - in place just a few months - publish their plans.

People tell us they don't like 'yah-boo' politics, and that's exactly what Labour were doing - criticising the new leaders for not doing in two months what Labour hadn't done in two years. But action on air quality is important for everyone in Derby.

Thanks to a Lib Dem amendment, both Conservatives and Labour are now committed to publishing their plans to improve Derby's air quality, and the Council is committed to carrying out public consultation to get the best plans. The amendment also commits the Council to meet or exceed the clean air targets set out in the Government and court requirements.

Delays on A52 Works

Since Labour lost control of the Council it has emerged that the A52 project, started by Labour, is now likely to double in cost. An audit investigation was ordered as soon as Labour lost control of the Council in May this year. This is being done by Central Midlands Audit Partnership, who do internal audit for the City Council and others in the region.

At the July Council meeting Labour put forward a motion to have a second review of the project carried out. This would have cost the Council about £1 million and been slower.

Lib Dem councillors amended this motion to make sure that the report from Central Midlands Audit Partnership will be published in full and debated by Council. It also called upon Labour Cllr Asif Afzal, the previous Cabinet member with responsibility for the works, to fully co-operate with the investigation, and to say when he first knew of the overspend and what actions he took to mitigate the impact prior to him leaving his Cabinet position in May 2018.

Cllr Eric Ashburner said "We all want to know what went wrong to make the cost of the A52 works rocket. But Labour's stunt of trying to push for a slower, more expensive investigation into mistakes that happened on their own watch is just a silly game. I am confident the Audit Partnership will get to the bottom of how Labour let the costs rise so massively."