This really is the last time

This really was my last county council meeting: General Purposes Committee, yesterday.

The agenda looked unexciting but you never know what might be hidden in the papers or the officer reports and so it transpired at this meeting.

The first agenda item of substance was number 4, Integrated Finance Monitoring Report for the period ending 31 January 2021, and buried in the recommendations was:

g) Note the intention to invest for treasury management purposes into collective Infrastructure Funds, subject to endorsement by the C&I Committee in March, as set out in section 7.7.

Of course this is the decision which I reported on in my previous post and now there was going to be another vote on it so I had to speak.

I reminded the committee that the council had declared a climate emergency, that nothing was more important than addressing it and that there was no room for compromise. I said that it was surely wrong to prioritise a modest increase in income over the future of our planet and that it was the coincident action of multiple agencies like CCC which would make a difference no matter how small they might be individually. I referred again to what I’d heard Mark Carney say a week ago. Click here if you want to listen to what I said.

Ironically the Chair of the Council’s Environment & Sustainability Committee had spoken just before me in which he’d talked about the council’s ‘commitment to decarbonisation’ which had result in that committee’s continue support for otherwise unprofitable investment.

When it went to the vote the recommendation was unsurprisingly supported with all the Tories voting for and everyone else voting against.

Next we had agenda item 5, Cambridgeshire County Council’s Response to COVID-19, which was introduced by the Council’s Director of Public Health, Liz Robin, with whom I’d worked closely when I was chair of the Health Committee during the last council. As a part of her introduction Liz spoke of the higher rates in Fenland and explained that it’s a part of an ‘area of enduring transmission’ and that such areas are characterised by:

‘levels of deprivation, housing conditions, working conditions, low wages, and low levels of take up of self-isolation support in relation to need’.

I recognised these as being typical of the ‘determinants of health’ espoused by Professor Michael Marmot and that we’d noted this situation at the Health Committee some five years ago and formulated a proposal to address them. I reminded Steve Count, Leader of the Council and Chair of the Committee that we had met with Public Health England Chief Executive , Duncan Selbie (photo above), at the time when we’d enlisted his support.

I suggested that little had been done, that the Council had let the people of Fenland down and that this should now be a priority for the new Council. Unsurprisingly several Tories claimed that the people in Fenland had not been let down but there was an absence of any statement of what had been done. Another case of ‘the lady doth protest too much, methinks’? Click here for my contribution

And that’s it. Not sure if the Tories will breathe a sigh of relief that I will not longer be there to ask occasionally difficult questions or if in fact they’ve just seen me as a minor irritant that they’d generally ignore. I’d like to think that I’ve made an impact in at least a small way at every meeting I’ve attended, I can’t imagine that there are any at which I have not spoken. End of an era, albeit a minor and very personal one.

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