This week has been pretty chocka with meetings, what with panels, full council and area committees already happened, and member-officer steering groups and member development still to come. As well as giving councillors a formal way of debating policy, they also bring us together informally, and that’s when corridor gossip begins.
After tea at Full Council (pan-fried salmon, chocolate roulade, cheese) Labour Cllr C asked me a throwaway question en passant: “Have officers talked to you about the proposed changes to the Development Control Ctte?”
My hackles were instantly raised. Changes? What changes? Does this impact on me? Is my party being removed still further from the locus of control? Are the officers trying to get rid of DC’s awkward squad?
When I put all these into words, making it clear that the subject was totally new to me, the councillor backed off sharpish and told me not worry. Nothing would come of any such proposals, and it shouldn’t be a problem to me.
Which, of course, just left me even more worried. Not only were these changes clearly about to happen, but also I wouldn’t get to have a say in the outcomes!
So, I asked Tory Cllr C what he had heard. Had he had private meetings with officers to discuss changes to Development Control? His reaction was almost a mirror of mine. Not only had he had no such meetings, he was deeply concerned that any such meetings were happening without him, and would surely eventually be presented as a fait accompli with no room for manoeuvre.
And, being a councillor with many more years of experience of local government than me, he was able to fill me in on the ramifications of what it meant last time there was a reorganisation of development control, with a small pliable subcommittee where all the important decisions were taken away from the glare of full on scrutiny.
Then I went home and thought nothing further about it.
Until this afternoon, two days later, when, at the rise of my area committee, Cllr W came over and said he’d heard I knew all about the plans to reorganise development control.
This is getting a little out of hand, and I’m probably not going to hear the last of it, because when DC does finally meet, I’m going to have to send my apologies – I will be in Brighton.
By which point the committee will probably be discussing “Cllr Foster’s plans to reform DC”…