We had a full agenda today, at Cabinet. Normally this makes finishing on time much more difficult because of the larger number of members that want to speak. I encourage this participation as it enriches the debate that cabinet have.
We do have rules to ensure good progress is made but their is ample opportunity for points to be made. It is usually opposition parties that make use of this and I welcome that.
Local members can speak on issues affecting their divisions. So can lead opposition members on matters that they are responsible for. Of course the opposition leaders can also speak. I am also flexible in my interpretation of this guidance to ensure all issues are raised to ensure cabinet members have the fullest information on which to base their decisions.
In order for cabinet to question speakers then the speakers must turn up. We often receive lots of written comment from members, which we read, but it doesn’t have the same impact as a presentation in person. The questioning of speakers can gain insight into motivation, undocumented knowledge and local opinion.
So, today was very odd. With the exception of Lib Dem John Batchelor, who made a valuable contribution on the subject of adult social care, there were NO speakers.
More amazingly, we had no local members asking to speak on the proposed changes to the Catholic Church junction in Cambridge. Normally, any road related matter brings out significant opinion from councillors in Cambridge but today – nothing. Three local members could have spoken, the opposition lead members or the opposition group leaders could have participated but NO ONE asked to speak.
Kilian Bourke, Lib Dem opposition leader sat at the back of the cabinet room and did not ask to speak on any of the 17 or so issues on the agenda today. He seemed preoccupied tweeting about what was going on but made no contribution to the proceedings with the exception of rudely shouting out when I pointed out the lack of speakers.
John Batchelor offered up the explanation for no speakers as we must be doing so well. I will take that at face value but it feels much more as if the opposition has given up.