Saturday, 9 May 2009

The most pointless council meeting in the history of Brighton and Hove?

I've just been perusing the agenda for next Thursday's full meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council. I wonder if it's the most pointless meeting in the history of the council: as it's the annual council meeting, councillors are not allowed to submit any motions. Nor written questions to cabinet members or the leader of the council. No public questions are allowed. No deputations. No petitions are presented, and no items referred to council by any of the council's other committees will be considered. It's not even 'the done thing' to make a political argument of any sort.

So what's it for? It's largely ceremonial, really: all the councillors turn up and endorse the 'election' (all stitched up in advance, of course) of Anne Norman as mayor while her family and friends look on with a warm glow of pride.

Now there's nothing wrong with ceremony, in its place, and I certainly don't begrudge another family of Tory grandees their 15 minutes of fame, but is it really giving good value to the taxpayer? I wonder how much it costs: all the senior staff salaries, webcasting, member allowances, room use charges, refreshments. It must run to five figures... can't we spend the money on modernising council accommodation, or supporting communities, or boosting local Green industries and creating jobs? Anything really without the 19th century pomp and circumstance?

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