Cambridge AJC ( Area Joint Committee )

This morning I had a great morning at the stroke Carers conference. This felt positive and involved real people with real needs which the county council can help.

I left early to attend the Cambridge AJC. On balance, not one of my best decisions.

This was my first AJC. I like the idea of an AJC that takes small decisions, for example traffic regulation orders rather than them coming to cabinet. For example, where yellow lines should go. Having looked at the agenda I was concerned that this AJC had expanded itself to consider all sorts of things that it had no jurisdiction over.

I was not wrong. Papers after paper with the only recommendation for the committee “to note” passed before us. Little, if anything, for decision was seen. It felt like a talking shop and a chance for Lib Dem City Councillors to pontificate on highways matters which is not normally within there responsibility. Add to that loads of Lib Dem County Councillors, who all seem to think they worked in a Ward (District) rather than a Division (County) a lone labour County Councillor and myself it all felt odd.

I have been told that this AJC was usually an opportunity for the County to be given a hard time. Today I heard the word “disappointing” in relation to the guided bus ( which is now very successful ). I heard a cycleway described as strategic ??? I heard committee members make a number of demands on County Officers, which I stopped. I also corrected a Lib Dem City Councillor who made an offensive remark about our officers integrity. He apologised. On the positive side Lib Dem County Councillor Kevin Wilkins managed to go a whole meeting without personally insulting me.

All in all this did not represent good value for money. One of our democratic officers and three transport officers were tied up for three hours ( not including prep time) for very little.

If the AJC had not taken place nothing would be different. We councillors need to understand that the people of Cambridgeshire need us to focus on what is important to the people of Cambridgeshire not our own internal meetings.

Interestingly, all the other AJC’s in the county are likely to fold. Only this one survives and I wonder why?

Oops forgot to mention. This AJC seems to want to dilute the impact of or replace local elected County Councillors who are normally fully involved in local matters. That is democratic and if the local councillor does not perform then the electorate will have it’s say. Replacing local members with committees is rarely a good thing. We need to move on.

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