Rose Bowl decision ‘too hasty’

Eastleigh Council have been accused of ‘steamrollering through’ their decision to purchase the Rose Bowl cricket stadium for £6.5 million.

John Martin, a West End resident and Ukip activist challenged  a poorly attended meeting of the performance and policy panel last Wednesday over the haste the council had shown in pursuing the proposed deal.

Mr Martin was particularly concerned that the cabinet that convened on December 15 ignored a recommendation from the Resources Scrutiny Panel that had met only two days earlier (December 13) to fully consider a list of 14 outstanding issues including assurances from the directors and auditors of the rose bowl regarding the stadium’s financial position prior to any decision being made.

However Instead of doing so the cabinet – in a meeting which lasted one minute – decide to pass the matter on to Full Council which was scheduled to meet half an hour later.

The proposed Stadium purchase had been bundled together with an update on the council’s plan to borrow £30 million to fund the construction of a four star hotel at the venue and had been submitted as a late paper.

A member of the Public who had indicated he wanted to speak at the Cabinet meeting (none other than Mr Martin) was therefore not called by the Chair, Cllr Keith House.

Prior to the Cabinet meeting Mr Martin had been informed by the council that the matter would be subject to further scrutiny by the joint scrutiny panel, however during the Full Council meeting councillors agreed to delegate the decision making process to the Leader of the Council Cllr Keith House along with Chair of Resources Scrutiny Cllr Steve Holes, and the council’s top three executive officers.

The final decision therefore to commit the Borough to a £36 million debt will now rest with just five people only  two of whom have been elected .

This is the background to Mr Martin’s complaint – it should have been a straightforward task to run through the sequence of events, described above, which led the Council to agree that the final decision should be made without recourse to the joint scrutiny committee but it actually took 40 minutes to establish this.

The fact that there were only four out of an expected 12 councillors present – two of whom were not present at the December 15 meeting – probably wasn’t helpful and perhaps  Mr Martin, unaccustomed to public speaking, was a little long winded in stating his case but Corporate Director Alex Parmley appeared to have difficulty in understanding Mr Martin and much time was taken with trying to establish what it was Mr Martin had understood would happen,what should have happened and what actually did happen over the course of the three meetings held on December 13 -15.

The Corporate Director repeatedly asked for ‘clarification’ and suggested that Mr Martin was confusing the Stadium with plans for the Rose Bowl Hotel while flatly stating:

‘There was no agreement to not subject the matter to scrutiny’

but finally, after considerable discussion he conceded:

“There was a change as a result of motions moved on the night (December 15).  The original proposal was that the decision would come back to council and It would go to scrutiny beforehand but there was a motion made on the night which has a material effect on that so it would not go back to council.”

Responding Mr Martin concluded:

“The scrutiny panel went to a lot of trouble to ask questions and come up with this recommendation but it was ignored by cabinet. There were a lot of issues to be considered, it went to cabinet and the cabinet did not consider them.

What is the point in having a scrutiny panel? We may as well not have one.

Motions were then amended and changed on the night (December 15)

How can that be a proper process? Surely that needs to be challenged?”

This went unanswered. In fact there was an 11 second silence before anyone else spoke.

Conservative opposition councillor Cllr Grajewski – added her support to Mr Martin’s point regarding the haste with which the business had been conducted.

“It was all rushed through very quickly.  People, councillors and members of the public should have had more time – a greater opportunity to look at the minutes of the Resources Scrutiny.”

Cllr Grajewski had also said earlier that she believed it was not possible to achieve proper scrutiny when a committee is dominated by members from a single party.

After the meeting Mr Martin said he was grateful to have had the time to fully explain his concerns and hoped that the Chair, Cllr Holden-Brown would be able to discuss them with the Chair of the Resources Panel, Cllr Holes.

Mr Martin hoped this would lead to any decision on the Stadium purchase being subject to consideration by the Joint Scrutiny Panel.

Photo: Andy Dingley

see also: When 12 become 4

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  7 comments for “Rose Bowl decision ‘too hasty’

  1. Peter Stewart
    January 16, 2012 at 10:59 am

    This is a complex issue with many angles, whether you are a Councillor or a member of the public. Very few seem to grasp the full ramifications. John certainly does understand the essential points but the difficulty comes in trying to convey all the implications. I’m not surprised people present did not understand everything John was saying and I’m not surprised there were long silences when nobody spoke. If the meeting did not fully understand everything about this matter then perhaps that says something important.

  2. mm
    Eastleigh Xpress
    January 16, 2012 at 11:37 am

    It was a marathon session but in the end the panel seemed to understand why it was Mr Martin thought the decision was being rushed – but nobody wanted to comment on it other than Cllr Grajewski.

    BTW she emailed this morning to say that she did not receive a copy of the December 13 minutes until December 20.

  3. mm
    Eastleigh Xpress
    January 16, 2012 at 11:49 am

    I forgot to mention That Mr Martin told the panel that if he couldn’t get a satisfactory resolution – I would assume that would mean further scrutiny of any decision- he would refer his complaint to the LG ombudsman

  4. January 16, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Sometimes, surely, we need Council’s to move quickly and be decisive…?

    Tend to agree though, that the way this was pushed through the other week raised a few questions…

  5. Stephen Slominski
    January 16, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyU2pGWA6Jc

  6. January 16, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    Lol.

    I initially wondered about “My Way”.

    But with lyrics such as;

    “Ah there’s magic in the wake of a fiasco…”

    “From the Ashes of disaster grows the Rose Bowl of success”

    Perhaps this should be the new corporate song at Civic Offices…?

    httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GND10sWq0n0

  7. Sam Snook
    January 23, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    Fleming Park Golfers promise broken. Lib Dem
    Council failed to keep a promise of a new golf club house, we were thrown off the golf course
    and sent to the Sports Centre. We lost over 70% of members who had WAITED years for a new club house. Is Botley next-it could be, it might help to increase the membership at the Rose Bowl Golf Course . I like watching cricket only one problem the weather. In conclusion might I remind Local Councillors you are elected by the local community and are there to represent its views, however, you chose to support YOUR leader Keith House and local people will have their say when you ask
    for their support in May.
    Sam

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