As a member of the Liverpool Commission I was very keen on the idea of webcasting Council meetings, after all the public should be able to see and hear the debate. After last night's meeting I am not so sure!
I don't have full verbatim notes so my commentary below is based on only certain parts of the meeting.
On the plus side
the "Statement of Values" was passed unanimously. This is a short document we have been working on for more than a year now and it designed to outline expectations about behaviour and respect. I suggested the Lord Mayor move this rather then me or someone else which I hope gave it the authority it deserved.
I had two questions tabled - one on funding to cover policing of the Labour cabinets meeting (PR stunt) in Liverpool and the other on the need for more carriages on rush hour trains in South Liverpool. I got answers to both and asked a supplementary (extra question) on one of them.
We debated the Multi Area agreement and there were some good points that came out, particularly about the need for scutiny in future.
We heard from the Children in Care Council and signed the "politicians pledge". The pledge is about how we relate to children in care for whom we are all corporate parents.
We heard from two reps from the student union about student finances and tuition fees. They were worried about the cap on fees being raised. They are right to be worried - if it happens it will price some students out altogether. They didn't particularly oppose fees per se though, which surprised me.
We had a debate on duplication of governance - lots of layers of bureacracy and the need to streamline. It was a Lib Dem motion and Labour didn't agree, but to be fair it was a good debate I thought with points on either side. The Lib Dems won the vote and Warren is right to push this - in times of hardship people need to feel assured that the various decision making layers are not an extra burden. They also need to feel that those layers are at least democratic.
On the minus side
A really bad tempered debate in which a lot of personal insults were either thrown or implied. It really is not on, whatever people's political opinions, to bully a staff member by proxy - which is what I felt happened last night.
Then after all the temper - a set of motions, which individuals had taken the trouble to write and sumit, going through without debate. Now it may be that everyone agreed with them but I can't be the only person who is concerned that some members seem happy to spend time on a political row but not on issues that would make a difference to citizens. Don't get me wrong - I realise that some people need the outlet of the row..its just that it would be good if it were followed by the substance.
Also on the minus side - it really is quite difficult to hear (or is that a plus in some cases)
The minutes and agendas for full council are published on the Council's website on www.liverpool.gov.uk.