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Friday, 14 May 2010

Happy new year....

What does the Council have in common with China?

We both like to have run to our own calendar and have out new year at seemingly inexplicable times.

Yesterday saw the start of a new year for the council (it's the year of the greasy pole climber again, apparently). This manifests itself as a full council meeting which starts at Tatton Park, in adjourned and then is finished at Congleton Town Hall the next day.

Sounds odd, but it makes a bit more sense in practice. The first part of the meeting is to elect a new mayor and is called the "Mayor Making". The election is already a done deal - the council voted last meeting to decide who the mayor should be, but the decision is ratified again at this meeting. Once elected, the new mayor is installed in due pomp and circumstance, and everybody who's anyone gets a chance to say something nice about them. The meeting is then adjourned, and everybody gets a nice buffet lunch at the taxpayer's expense. We then all go home.

The next day we arrive at Congleton Town Hall, get a nice buffet lunch at the taxpayer's expense (Yes, again. I'll come to this part in a minute....) and we hold the rest of the meeting. This is mostly procedural items to appoint a new leader, deputy leader, cabinet and chairman of committees and there isn't much to discuss.

Now, the big news is that two cabinet members have been removed (Cllrs Findlow and Silvester) in favour of two new faces (Cllrs Bailey and Gaddum). The eagle eyed among you will note that this is bringing two women into the cabinet to bring the total number of women to.....two. Although this change gets announced at the full council meeting it is for information only and we cannot debate or vote on the changes, it's completely within the gift of the leader.

I'd just like to point out that I'm not for a moment suggesting the change had been solely to bring balance into the cabinet at all. I don't know Rachel Bailey that well, but most people from Macclesfield will know Hilda Gaddum and will know that she doesn't do anything by half measures and she is there on merit. It is slightly odd that she's been given Children's Services as a portfolio when she doesn't have any experience in this area - but of anyone Hilda will be able to get her teeth into it. She's also tenacious enough to ensure that officers can't slip anything past her. I wish her and Rachel the best of luck.

Just to pop back to the lunches....nice as they were, I'm at a loss to explain why the taxpayer has to pay for lunch for two days running - especially when you consider that the meeting on the 2nd day lasted for less than half an hour. Some of the meetings go on for an age, and perhaps then it's more understandable, but it doesn't seem right when we're out of the building within 30 minutes.