The debate was part of the budget and was agreed after leader, Cllr Diviani had spent 10-15 minutes outlining how little money the council had to spend because of the government’s withdrawal of a massive 30 per cent of its funding.
“Special budget items” had been debated by EDDC’s scrutiny meeting in January, where myself and Roger Giles, along with several other councillors, had expressed real concern about the justification for spending such a large amount of taxpayers money on a website which is at least adequate.
Last night I outlined the concerns of the scrutiny committee and said I was unhappy that the scrutiny committee’s recommendations on more evidence being presented re the new website creating long-term savings, had been ignored. No evidence had been presented to the cabinet on this, yet councillors rubber-stamped it.
I moved an amendment that the money should go towards a fund for recycling cardboard instead, which I was sure that residents would support. The amendment was seconded by Roger Giles.
In response to my amendment, Cllr Ray Bloxham said the website upgrade was about “changing the way we work” and that the council was “investing to save.”
Cllr Ian Thomas agreed with Cllr Bloxham. He added that it was a forward thinking initiative, about “channel shifting” and a response to what customers wanted.
I was allowed a final say, where I pointed out that there still had not been any evidence provided about how much money the website upgrade would achieve, which had not addressed the scrutiny committee’s concerns.
Seven councillors (libdems and independents) voted in favour of my amendment. The vast majority, if not all the conservative group voted against it.
Council tax has been frozen once again.