The Yorkshire Post reports today that many voluntary and community groups in the East Riding of Yorkshire will miss out on grants awarded by the council which has received applications totalling £134,445. Only £73,000 is in the pot, which the East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) cabinet is unlikely to change.
Money is tight and it is the responsibility of councillors to spend our money wisely and I am sure many voluntary groups will be disappointed. I’m sure though those groups will look at some of the recent decisions of ERYC and feel they are being short changed. In 2008, councillors approved large inflation busting pay rises to retain the services of senior staff. Any responsible authority would have attached strings to these deals; such as not allowing them to leave their jobs for 5 years. It didn’t and as a result three senior officers have left (with an enhanced final salary pension) and large discretionary payments have been made to their pension funds. The most recent – and arguably the most notorious – has been the discretionary payment of £364,205 made to Sue Lockwood.
At the beginning of May we protested outside County Hall in Beverley, and on 23 June – the day after the emergency budget – a meeting of the full council will take place. We will be there again on a day when councillors will be able to ‘note with regret’ that the payment to Ms Lockwood has been authorised. We will be also be protesting against the removal of Cllr Gary Shores from two scrutiny committees. Cllr Shores joined us at the last rally, and the leadership has shown if you are a Conservative councillor, you cannot publicly disagree with them without consequences. What is the point of having a scrutiny process if anyone who disagrees with the cabinet is barred from serving on a scrutiny committee? What’s the point of having scrutiny committees? This proves once again that democracy is dead in County Hall.
We British are notoriously bad at complaining and protesting. We tend to accept our lot and moan to friends and family privately. Unless we publicly protest and make our views known, nothing will change. We protested in May, and we need to keep on protesting until they realise we are not going away. Please join us on 23 June, at 1.00pm. The full council meets at 2.00pm, so if you want to, you can sit in the public viewing area and watch your elected representatives in action.