Residents of Bradley Stoke are invited to have their say at the Annual Town Meeting this Wednesday evening (9th May) at the Jubilee Centre, Savages Wood Road (7:30pm start).
The meeting will receive summary reports from the Chair of Council (Cllr Ben Walker), the Chair of the Finance Committee (Cllr Roger Avenin), the Chair of the Planning & Environment Committee (Cllr John Ashe) and the Chair of the Leisure , Youth & Amenities Committee (Cllr Keir Gravil).
Members of the public will then have the opportunity to put questions to Councillors in an open session.
The Chairs’ full reports are contained in the Annual Report for 2011/2012, which has already been delivered to all households in the town at a cost of several thousand pounds. The report has also been available for download from the Council’s website since 19th April.
Written by the Councillors themselves, the report inevitably presents a rather biased view of the Council’s achievements over the past year, with the “huge savings” made by building a new office for the Council at a cost of £400k featuring prominently in both the Mayor’s and Finance Committee Chair’s reports.
Mayor Ben Walker reports that he is pleased with his Council’s new model for youth provision in Bradley Stoke, the introduction of which included closing the Brook Way Youth Club – a move which led to the loss of 13 youth worker jobs. South Gloucestershire Council has since decided to follow the path forged by Bradley Stoke Town Council by discontinuing support for all 13 youth centres that it currently runs with effect from April 2013, a move which Cllr Walker interprets as a “plaudit we [the Town Councillors] are very proud of”.
Also documented in the report is the attendance record of Town Councillors at meetings during the past financial year. Top marks again go to the enthusiastic Cllr Ben Walker, who has attended an astonishing 29 Council and Committee meetings, making him the only representative with a 100% record.
The enthusiasm of the other 14 Councillors (all Conservative) seems to have waned over the year after the euphoria following their election victory last May. Twelve months ago, the first Full Council meeting of the new administration saw 14 Councillors in attendance but by March 2012 this had dwindled to just six.
One newly-elected Councillor, Barry Mitchell (representing the Meadowbank ward), has attended just two meetings (from the 13 at which he was expected) over his first year in office. Other infrequent attenders have included Cllr Keir Gravil (11 from 24) and Cllr Ed Rose (12 from 29).
The current Vice-Chair of Council, Cllr Charlotte Walker (younger sister of the Mayor), has only attended one meeting of Full Council since September 2011.
According to a press release put out by the Council ahead of last year’s AGM, 24-year-old Ms Walker is “set to become the youngest Mayor in the town’s history” next week. A week later, on 23rd May, her elder brother is expected to be elected Chair of South Gloucestershire Council, having served as Vice-Chair for the past twelve months.
The Editor comments: Something the Annual Report doesn’t tell you
Despite repeated claims that it operates in a transparent manner, Bradley Stoke Town Council has shown itself to be increasingly secretive over the past year. A nadir of transparency came at the September 2011 Full Council meeting, when a batch of 13 decisions committing the Council to a total expenditure of at least £175,000 were waved through in a matter of seconds.
Members of the press and public present at the meeting had no idea what had been approved as the motion related to “recommendations” agreed at a so-called (informal) “Strategic Planning Meeting” held in private six days earlier. A report detailing the “recommendations” was only placed into the public domain when the draft minutes of the Full Council meeting were published a few days later.
The Editor of this newspaper brought the matter to the attention of South Gloucestershire Council’s Monitoring Officer, who instigated an investigation by a senior member of his legal team.
The investigation concluded that Bradley Stoke Town Council had acted improperly, as reports to be presented to Council meetings should be made available, along with the agenda, at least three clear days in advance of the meeting.
As a result of the investigation, the Town Council agreed to amend its procedures to ensure that “reports that accompany agendas are made available to members of the public at the Town Council offices at the same time the agenda is published”.
Last 5 posts in Bradley Stoke Town Council
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- Work set to start soon on Brook Way car park - October 6th, 2019
- Petty party politics return to town council at AGM - June 25th, 2019
- Meet the new mayor: Councillor Tom Aditya - June 16th, 2019
- Meet the new mayor: Councillor Ben Randles - June 17th, 2018