Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Corporate Plan

Special Council yesterday to approve the Corporate Plan for next year. The document looks at the Council's performance against hundereds of Government indicators. It's a heavy read, leavened slightly by the "traffic light" approach. This shows at an instant, for example, that Darlington's performance regarding the number of people killed and seriously injured improved last year (indeed we are amongst the best in the country for that statistic) whilst the percentage of people satisfied with the bus information we provide declined.

You can download a copy for yourself here.

If you take your job seriously as a councillor, whether as part of the Executive or Scrutiny function, you have to plough through these stats. There are nuggets for any opposition councillor to explore publicly or in private with officers and the relevant Cabinet members.

Yesterday, to increase a sense of accountability, each Cabinet Members said a few words about their own portfolio area, and the challenges in the year to come. I missed the very first part of the meeting, but I caught Cllr. Heather Scott for the Tories stating that her group would be keeping an eye on our progress.

Otherwise there were practically no other comments from the opposition. I'll repeat the point I've made before - the Council led by Labour can become more open and transparent to its heart's content, but if the opposition want to sit gazing idly into space, then any democratic deficit will not be closed.

At least Cllr. Charles Johnson had a dig, stating that he was satisfied with the comments made by all the Cabinet Members ... except me! Apparently I send a cold shiver down Charles' spine when I speak. Not clear why, but I do have a habit of using those words scorned by certain Tories - "bus" and "bike"...

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