So at annual council we decided to back my plan to move to an executive committee, getting rid of the P&R, Housing and E&C committees that did exist.

Getting to grips with a new system will take a while and I am sure people (who in the main don’t like change) may be a little upset, but it removes the long trudge of items being referred from one committee to the other, speeds up the decision making process and I think will work out cheaper and more transparent to the public.

In the mean time I will be bringing a paper to the first executive meeting, next week, about moving to full cabinet style governance, and the 6 months of consultation and thoughtful reflection the council must go through before any such decision can be taken.

The first executive also gives me the first question session of the year to answer, as leader, which I am very much looking forward to!

So at annual council we decided to back my plan to move to an executive committee, getting rid of the P&R, Housing and E&C committees that did exist.

Getting to grips with a new system will take a while and I am sure people (who in the main don’t like change) may be a little upset, but it removes the long trudge of items being referred from one committee to the other, speeds up the decision making process and I think will work out cheaper and more transparent to the public.

In the mean time I will be bringing a paper to the first executive meeting, next week, about moving to full cabinet style governance, and the 6 months of consultation and thoughtful reflection the council must go through before any such decision can be taken.

The first executive also gives me the first question session of the year to answer, as leader, which I am very much looking forward to!

Next week is the “Annual Council meeting” – the first meeting of the council after the local elections.

At the ACM we elect the two ceremonial roles Chairman and Vice Chairman of the council and the business roles Leader and Deputy Leader, we also decide which committees that we are going to have and appoint to them and appoint their Chairmen and vice Chairmen. Its all rather procedural and boring at times.

BUT I have been wondering a lot about the formation of the council and who goes where to best serve the town, given the mass of skills the Conservative administration in Harlow has at its disposal.

I have also been thinking about the Scrutiny role, and considering that I don’t believe an administration should scrutinise itself, I am fairly sure that we should not only let the opposition Chair that committee, as is tradition in Harlow, but that they should have the vice chairman position on it too.

I really would like to see Harlow Council operating in a more streamlined decision making process so that good decisions can be made faster and cheaper.

Next week is the “Annual Council meeting” – the first meeting of the council after the local elections.

At the ACM we elect the two ceremonial roles Chairman and Vice Chairman of the council and the business roles Leader and Deputy Leader, we also decide which committees that we are going to have and appoint to them and appoint their Chairmen and vice Chairmen. Its all rather procedural and boring at times.

BUT I have been wondering a lot about the formation of the council and who goes where to best serve the town, given the mass of skills the Conservative administration in Harlow has at its disposal.

I have also been thinking about the Scrutiny role, and considering that I don’t believe an administration should scrutinise itself, I am fairly sure that we should not only let the opposition Chair that committee, as is tradition in Harlow, but that they should have the vice chairman position on it too.

I really would like to see Harlow Council operating in a more streamlined decision making process so that good decisions can be made faster and cheaper.

What do you do when you take over a council and find out that its finances (which have never been good at the best of times), are in the direst of straights….?

What do you do when planning your first budget, your first real mark on the town, to find that your administration has to come up with over £4 million from a £16 million budget in 6 months?

Quit? I have to be honest it went through our my mind. Run round screaming and shouting, yes I did a bit of that too.

Then my mind went to that recently rediscovered poster from WWII “keep calm and carry on”. So typically British and at it’s root so typically Conservative.

Ok we had a budget that because of misuse and abuse by previous Labour and Liberal led administrations was in dire need of fixing, we had a budget that because of government meddling and dishonesty from “flash” Gordon was deteriorating fast. But good conservative principles HAD to come to the fore.

And that’s what we have done, and that’s what our budget later in February will deliver. There will be tough decisions. Not everyone will be happy.

But I have a Choice…. I can either do what every other Council Leader has done for years, nibble round the edge of the budget and not really touch the problem, trying to push it away to be dealt with by someone else.

Or I can bite the bullet and put the council’s finances on a sound financial footing once and for all and give us a chance to start again. It’s not a pretty choice, and as a politician in a town with elections every year, I understand why previous leaders have not had the guts to deal with the problem. I have to. I love my town, and I want it to get better, so I have to give it it’s medicine.