Each week, public affairs reporter Michael Wilkinson takes a stroll down the corridors of power.
PANTOMIME season may have come to an end for many, but not so for Gloucester City Council.
Let me tell you a joke.
When asked why Gloucester’s recycling rates are so abysmally low at just 36 per cent compared to a target of 50 per cent, cabinet member for environment Saj Patel said: “More and more people are using electronic devices and using less paper and things come with less packaging these days and many people are composting in their own gardens so we are finding a reduction in recycling.”
Perhaps the Cotswolds are a place where no computers exist and everything is double-wrapped in packaging because their recycling rates are a whopping 58 per cent. A fluke, you may say. For good measure, how about Cheltenham’s 45 per cent rate then?
If Saj can explain that one, I’d be intrigued to know the answer.
Does it have anything to do with the introduction of charges for garden waste collections perhaps?
If so, watch as the rates drop even further when Gloucester City Council ramps up the charges by another 10 per cent this year - if they get away with their current budget proposals.
Perhaps the answers lie in the environmental report Labour’s Mary Smith received from Saj last week. She asked him at a council meeting if he could clarify its contents, but he admitted he didn't know what was in it. “I’m surprised that you don’t know what is in a report with your name on it,” snorted Mary.
Oh dear. Even in the pantomime, you need to learn the lines before going on stage.
VOTING every four years instead of every year for three consecutive years could save Gloucester City Council something in the region of £195,000.
Labour say it could also bring stability to an administration for four years, in the same way that the current Government introduced fixed-term five-year parliaments. It means council bosses will be able to better plan for the future without the possibility that just 12 months into their plans they are swept aside by up to one third of the council’s seats changing hands.
The Lib Dems argue that some wards have one or two councillors, while others have three, and elections by thirds results in some people in the city voting one year, while others do not.
It is a move that will be ultimately resisted by the Conservatives, even though they won’t nail their colours to the mast on the issue just yet.
They fear a change in the political mood could wipe their administration out in one swoop.