11 December 2015
On Monday evening the City Council's Policy and Resources Committee considered a report on changes to street cleaning and grounds maintenance.
Before the meeting I listened to trade unionists who were lobbying the council about this. I was pleased to listen to Unite members who work in street cleaning. They told me that there had been no meaningful consultation with staff and trade unions and that they felt that the proposals were flawed.
These proposals wee first dreamt up in the secret Changing for the Future Board where press and public are barred. Just prior to the meeting all councillors were invited to a briefing on Participatory Budgeting. This is about including the citizens of Dundee in the budget making process. I think that this is a good idea and have previously called on the council to carry out a full open consultation on the budget with the people of Dundee.
Street cleaning and open space maintenance are areas of service that contributed to Dundee winning the Britain in Bloom award. A few weeks ago the council rightly praised the work of the staff in these areas. Now the council appears to be saying that this is not important.
I acknowledge that these are difficult times and that cuts from Holyrood and Westminster are having an impact. Surely though we should listen to the views of local people and to the views of the workforce.
The council consults on all sorts of things, indeed there is a consultation going on at the moment on the length of the school day despite this not being council policy.
I want to give the people of Dundee a say in whether they think the city should be dirtier or not. If this policy is right then what is there to fear from sharing information and listening to the public?
We were told that Dundee is near the top of the Premier League in these areas. We should celebrate this. I am unaware of any Premier League team that would go out of its way to make sue that they got worse.
I want meaningful consultation with the workforce and their trade unions. The workforce, those people who contributed to winning Britain in Bloom, why wouldn't we listen to them?
I think that the council should be open and transparent with the budget process. It is clear that this is a money-saving exercise and perhaps the Administration and the officers should just be clearer about that.
Fundamentally I think that we should listen to the workers and to the people of Dundee and use that as a means of developing policy.
I was disappointed that my attempt to have a full consultation that would have allowed the people to have their say was defeated by a coalition of SNP, Tory and Lib Dem votes.
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