The untold story of this years council budget

It’s a sad fact of life that good news does not sell newspapers. Last week 35 councillors representing the Green Party, Labour and Conservatives unanimously agreed the city council budget. This unanimity of cross-party working has not happened before in anyone’s memory. It’s important because it means that to a large degree we are reasonably united on what needs to be done rather than squabbling and promising to unpick the work “the next time we are in power”. How did it happen?

It happened because:

• Budget ideas were discussed at length in a series of earlier cross-party committee meetings where every councillor was involved.
• Officers worked with all members to brief them and to get their buy-in to the process.
• Each political group was able to hold their heads up knowing that their ideas had at least been listened to and to a large extent made part of the budget plan.
• Members of each political party were mature enough to make some compromises to reach an agreement.

So I say thank you to every member of the council for making this happen. It’s a triumph of the move from cabinet to committee structures and the cross-party working engendered by having each of the chairs and vice chairs, leaders, deputy leaders, mayor and deputy mayor evenly shared across the political groups. This would not have happened without the Green Party pushing for a new way of working. It’s probably unlikely that the Green Party will get any electoral credit at future elections but it’s got to be the way forward.

It’s a shame that good news does not sell newspapers – who will ever know of this untold story?

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