Appointments to community organisations, partnerships and local authority bodies
To approve any changes to the council appointments as detailed in report LD.419 for the term of the Council until 2015.
Members considered report LD.419. Appointments were made as detailed at
appendix 2 to these minutes.
The Solicitor to the Council informed members that Cllr Coborn was stepping down as the representative on Gloucestershire Playing Fields Association and that there was a vacancy on Two Rivers Housing - Joint Development Forum.
Cllr Molyneux proposed and Cllr Diana Edwards seconded an amendment to remove the appointment of a council representative on the Alliance.
Speaking to his amendment Cllr Molyneux said that the council needed to look at the value for money aspect of the appointment, since membership of the Alliance cost the council £2,500 per year plus officer and member time and expenses. He acknowledged that the Alliance had been a great friend to the council in the past as the Coalfields Alliance; indeed it had begun the project for the regeneration of Cinderford. However he believed that it had become more of a lobbying group and officers who had attending meetings in 2011/12 had found nothing of use. He also believed that no member from the district had attended meetings in that year. He pointed out that £2500 represented about 25 per cent of the annual regeneration budget in spending terms.
Cllr O'Neill said that while he was new to the council, as a resident of Cinderford he was aware of how important the Alliance had been to the district and others in his group had a far greater knowledge.
Cllr Hogan expressed anger and sadness at Cllr Molyneux's sudden proposal, which had not been put forward as a motion. He mentioned the sterling work undertaken by former councilor Frank Williams attending meetings all over the country for the benefit of the district, mostly without officer support.
Cllr Molyneux, on a point of information, stated that he had been accompanied by an officer when he had attended Alliance meetings ad the council's representative.
Cllr Hogan continued that the council had derived huge benefits from the Alliance and it would be wrong to dump it now that the council had got what it could. He was sure that Cllr Morgan read all papers received, but had not felt that he could justify traveling to Scotland for meetings at the expense of the council. He ended by saying that now was not the time to cut off possible future support from the Alliance by leaving it.
Cllr Bill Evans said that he did not have a detailed knowledge of the matter, but it seemed, sudden, shortsighted and premature to propose leaving the Alliance.
Cllr Gardiner acknowledged the amount of work and effort put in by Frank Williams. He asked why representatives had not attended meetings.
Cllr Winship asked if the council could rejoin in the future if it decided to leave at this point.
The Solicitor to the Council confirmed that she understood that it could.
Cllr Morgan, the council's current representative, said that he had been deeply involved since 1995 in the work of the Alliance and that if an officer had gone he would have accompanied them to the meeting in January 2012 in Ayrshire. He had previously been to Doncaster and had hosted a meeting in Coleford. He reminded members that the Alliance had been set up for a coalfield campaign and technically the district should not have been members, since it had stopped commercial mining some time before the creation of the body. It had been the persistence of Frank Williams in developing a rapport with the other members that had achieved membership.
He said that he was not able to do the same as Frank Williams had, but he always carefully read all the documents from the Alliance, which provided useful information when looking at issues of regeneration. He believed that it would be unwise and hasty to leave the Alliance before all regeneration work was complete.
Cllr Whitburn, deputy representative for the council, said that he also read all documentation from the Alliance, which he found interesting and which showed that it undertook good work. He apologised for not getting to meetings in 2011/12, but there had been none closer than several hundreds of miles away. Although he would be happy for someone else to take on the role, he was proud to be the deputy and would try to get to meetings.
Cllr Burford believed that the matter should be deferred unless members knew how much money the council had put in, how much money it had received and since joining and what the council could possibly obtain in the future.
The chairman, as a long-standing member, wondered if the matter could be deferred, as it would need more detailed, informed debate. He would not want the council to be premature in any decision and asked members to consider the amendment carefully.
Cllr Molyneux said that he also acknowledged the great energy and work put in by Frank Williams, who was well known to other members of the Alliance. He said that since he himself had become a councillor the council had put in £12,500. The £14.75 million allocated by the Alliance for the district had never been given, because the council had not been able to spend it in time. The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) had stepped in, although not promising the full amount, but based on matched funding. He did not know how much the council had paid in membership fees since it had become a member. His main point was that if councillors became representatives on any outside body they should become involved, attend meetings and disseminate their knowledge to the rest of the council.
Cllr Molyneux agreed to withdraw his amendment and Cllr Diana Edwards, as seconder concurred.
RESOLVED - to approve the changes to the appointment of members to the positions indicated in report LD.417 for the four-year term of the council 2011-2015 as at appendix 2 to the minutes.