Cambridgeshire County Council annual meeting

Today’s annual meeting of the County Council took place at Alconbury Weald, and began at 10:30AM with the re-election of Cllr Sebastian Kindersley as Chair and Cllr Doug Dew as Vice Chair.

The meeting marked the deaths of two former members of the Council’s staff with a minute’s silence. There were a number of public questions, all related to highways and transport matters, and recommendations for changes in the Council’s constitution which were agreed without debate.

The chairs and vice-chairs of committees, and members of committees, for the coming year were agreed.

Five motions had been submitted for debate.

The first motion, from Cllr Alex Beckett (Lib Dem), was about the opportunities and risks of new technologies. The motion was altered by the proposer before being moved and debated, and its main proposal was to work with the Combined Authority to create a technology partnership to predict and prepare for future technological change. It was approved by 51 votes in favour, none against, and three abstentions.

The second motion, from Cllr Dr Geoff Seeff (Lib Dem), was about food labelling for allergens, and the devastating effects for those with allergies resulting from failures of labelling. There were several first-hand anecdotes, and I felt somewhat isolated in having neither an allergy nor a doctorate. This was also approved, by 54 votes in favour, none against, and just one abstention.

The third motion, from Cllr Steve Count (Conservative), called for all existing and new 20MPH proposals to be reviewed to ensure compliance with new non-compulsory guidance from the Government, and a change in the constitution to require such proposals to be decided by committee. Cllr Piers Coutts (Ely South) spoke extremely well to put facts straight about the consultation on the Ely scheme, and challenge the idea of full compliance with non-compulsory guidance. I also spoke in the debate, as did many other councillors. The motion was defeated by 20 votes in favour to 32 votes against.

The fourth motion, from Cllr Lucy Nethsingha (Lib Dem), concerned the withdrawal by the Government of funding to improve air quality. It was approved by 36 votes in favour to 11 against, with seven abstentions.

The fifth and final motion, from Cllr Dr Susan van de Ven (Lib Dem), was a call for the council and its partners to strengthen international links and rebuild more collaborative relationships with international partners. This too was approved, by 35 votes to just one against, with sixteen abstentions.

Finally there were questions to the Leader of the Council Lucy Nethsingha in her role as the council’s appointee to the Combined Authority Board, and to Cllrs Anna Bradnam and Mark Goldsack as appointees to the Combined Authority’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee, all about bus services. The meeting concluded at 2:28PM.

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