Please find below Peter Webb's campaign diary...
Running on from the Feb-April diary...
The meeting at County Hall on 18th May duly took place but was given insufficient time. PGW and John Bosten attended facing Ccllr Michael Gosling (Executive Member Resources) and Chief finance Officer Phil Walker. Our follow up letter has been sent and circulated but the 4th June elections present a threat to continuity on outstanding issues.
The SPA (Police Authority) budget and precept were capped but the SPA are now seeking appeal support of the PM and Surrey MPs and making a case for a judicial review. On 26th May I was invited singly to Police HQ to meet the SPA Chairman and Police Chief Executive. The cap was foreshadowed by the SPA being “nominated” but not capped in 2008 giving a lower base from which this year’s increase would be assessed. I still consider that the SPA should have anticipated the cap but on the other hand the inept government/ministerial process was a handicap: The Minister will not indicate his intentions until well into the local budget setting timetable. No advance ‘clearance’ is allowed for. The most likely outcome in this matter is a £3m hit from a £1.6m return to council tax payers at a cost of £1.2m for re-billing. Good as the SPA case might be they should not in my opinion proceed on the basis of justified cost at any price. Income can never be open-ended.
The final shot under Accounts 2007 was my letter to the Chairman of the Audit & Governance Committee as follows:
Thank you for your letter of 20th May received yesterday which exactly duplicates that dated 19th from Michael Frater received today. This makes me wonder who is the ‘power behind the throne’ that I am talking to now.
Annual Accounts Process
I have long been aware of all the facts you set out. I will not repeat myself and deal point by point unless you ask but I see no absolute bar to transformation Your satisfaction with the present standard is disappointing.
Whole of Government Accounts
I think that you should not to be complacent about consequences flowing from this and I see, contrary to your belief, that budgets are in line for similar treatment from 2011.
We must hope that Parliament will by then be up to the task of dealing with the result and auditor’s report.
Guildford resident John Glandfield, steered hither by MP Anne Milton, had sent in to the County Council his research findings on road repair costs and coverage. This indicated £390,000 per mile in Surrey versus £166,000 in west Sussex. This was reported on in the Surrey Advertiser on 15th May. The reactions to this are murky but JG is still on the case and keeping me in the picture. It now seems that SCC have had to apologise for supplying wrong figures which again confirms that they know not what they do.
Both our Nevill Shearman and Steve Bowers have successfully gained MP Anne Milton’s intervention in getting answers. The latter produced a 3-page but unsatisfactory letter from Minister Yvette Cooper on public pensions. This at Steve’s suggestion was passed to all Surrey online supporters for comment with a response in mind.
I have again had regular requests for comment from the Surrey Ad, on new funding for emergency and terrorism preparation, and Surrey being top spenders on administrative staff.
On 13th June I sent MP Jeremy Hunt a personal message of complaint about the MPs expenses scandal.
On 18th May I sent a short message to Tim Aker after looking at the NAO report of 30th April 2009: Financial Management in the Department for Children, Schools and Families dealing with deficient financial management.
Other acts have included Peter Rauch’s pursuit of explanations about the party-political control method exercised in local decision-making, Peter Ruck’s long and typically well expressed published letter in advance of the County Council elections on 4th June, and a FOI question to SCC on behalf of a supporter concerning the hidden costs and outcomes with the Ombudsman of the 3-stage Care for the Elderly appeal process..