I attended the Lib-Dem Cabinet Meeting at Eastbourne Town Hall this evening and I found it a great shame that their trend for stage managed executive committee meetings continued with the usual blend of windy rehtoric, self congratulatory nonsense and reheated ancient political arguments that create a worrying image of a complacent administration that seems more focussed on spin than addressing genuine concerns.
I raised three issues:
1. Asset Management failings could affect sign off of annual accounts.
I am concerned that the very slow progress being made to address the asset management crisis could lead to the unknown condition of so many of the Council's properties meaning that values placed on property in the annual accounts is inaccurate if further major weaknesses are revealed in the structure of buildings that are yet to be inspected. It is believed by cabinet that they exceeding requirements set down but with the second batch of survey results overdue, it will be interesting to see if the conditions of these give cause for concern or if these results remain hidden until after the accounts are signed off. We will have to wait and see...
2. Delays to much vaunted Loyalty Card Scheme but costs keep mounting.
The agenda item was seeking cabinet approval to move the goal posts on the council's performance monitoring system 'Covalent' whilst new hi tech options are considered. I asked how much the project has cost tax payers so far, how much it will end up costing, when it will be delivered and what benefit it will be to residents and local businesses. The Leader of the Council did not know how much had been spent although officers bailed him out with clarification that £5,000 had already been budgeted but there were questions after the meeting as to whether this included officer time dedicated to the project so far. As a local resident and businessman I sincerely hope that we do actually end up with a product that brings us all benefits and is going to be capable of being seen as a serious alternative to the established Club Card and Nectar Point schemes, rest assured I shall continue to question performance...
3. Parking Strategy concerns fail to be addressed.
The planning application for the extended Arndale Centre is now with the council but residents and businesses located in the shadow of the multi storey car park are concerned that their quality of life will diminish if two further stories are permitted. The parking strategy highlights a big over supply of car parking spaces in the Town Centre with the Junction Road and Trinity Trees car parks regularly nowhere near capacity. I suggested that real time information should be introduced to direct visitors to existing available spaces before any further consideration is given to extending the current Arndale car park. The Leader of the Council offered the three Devonshire Ward representatives on Cabinet the chance to allay fears. One remained silent, one spoke about the benefits of the wider strategy document and the last started on about the decrimilised scheme which East Sussex County Council introduced for town centre street parking back in 2007. None of them answered the question and all failed to justify their broken promises on parking, don't forget they pledged to remove the County Scheme but not only did they fail to remove it but they also introduced more expensive parking charges on the Wish Tower Slopes next to the now demolished Wish Tower Restaurant. In adition they also failed to help local businesses by discounting parking charges during the crucial winter months as the Conservative run County Council have done now for the two previous years.
What must residents have thought?
Undeterred I will continue to ask questions and say where I think they going wrong but I will also be quite happy to work with them where I believe they are doing a good job! Let's not hold our breath.