I decided to attend a meeting at Pathfinder House, arguably the most significant full district council meeting in recent years. On the agenda were two items, inextricably linked – the budget, which included the proposals for this year s Council Tax rates
I decided to attend a meeting at Pathfinder House, arguably the most significant full district council meeting in recent years.
On the agenda were two items, inextricably linked - the budget, which included the proposals for this year's Council Tax rates, and a vote on the proposals for the replacement of Pathfinder House.
These proposals amount to the largest expenditure in the history of the council and affect the budget, the medium-term plan and our Council Tax rates for the foreseeable future.
It was surprising that the Pathfinder House decision was taken behind closed doors. Unfortunately, efforts by Lib Dem councillors to prevent the matter being discussed in private were dismissed by the chairman.
I cannot understand why a decision to go ahead with rebuilding Pathfinder House should be made in secret. We already know the rough costs and the building contractor to be used, so what can be so commercially sensitive that the public who, after all, are paying for the work, should be excluded from the debate?
To be blunt, the whole matter stinks. As far as I'm concerned, there are serious issues that need answering, some of which are:
* Having ignored the state of Pathfinder House for 10 years, why rush to build now? Is there an ulterior motive?
* Why rebuild at all, when in a few months local government will be re-organised and HDC may disappear?
* Why does HDC need three buildings in total bigger than the current one, when most companies and authorities are reducing staff levels and encouraging home working?
* It doesn't make sense to build offices without sufficient parking on site.
* Are these plans really the best solution? They lack imagination and the public have had no opportunity to give an opinion on the merits of this scheme or to propose alternative ideas.
Incidentally, the debate resulted in a budget being passed with a £575,000 shortfall in it. I hope this isn't a foretaste of what is to come. It would be nice to know just where the £575,000 will come from.
I should imagine there are a number of groups and service providers who may be concerned that their budgets might get chopped at short notice.
JOHN SOUTER, Wood Walton