Heat is on as Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Fire Authority chairman gets fed up with councillor’s questions
A bandana-wearing Labour councillor clashed with a bemedalled Conservative chairman over the number of questions he was posing at a meeting.
At one stage the Tory chairman of Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Fire Authority sighed “he seems to be taking over” as she faced yet another raised hand from her dogged county colleague.
And at another point at Wednesday’s fire authority annual meeting, Cllr Robin Stuchbury (Lab, Buckingham West) was cut off as he said he wanted to propose a course of action on planning for flooding.
Cllr Stuchbury, who is one of only four Labour councillors out of 147 Buckinghamshire council, urged the Tory leadership to update the authority on its financial strategy.
The authority’s finances are so dire that they could run out of reserves in 2023. It’s a situation that has been described as “unsustainable.”
Last year the authority put aside £600,000 to cover the cost of a last ditch referendum to ask council tax payers to stump up more cash.
Speaking at the meeting held at Milton Keynes Council, Cllr Stuchbury urged an update as early as possible.
“We cannot be in silence about these matters,” he said.
“We do need a settlement which allows us to protect all the residents in Buckinghamshire.”
Chairman Cllr Lesley Clarke OBE (Cons, Abbey) said the authority is having discussions with the Government over funding.
And fire authority officials said they shared Cllr Stuchbury’s concerns and the picture has improved “slightly” because of a better forecast for business rates.
Mark Hemming, the director of finance and assets, said there are some “difficult decisions we may need to make.”
They are planning to update the authority members on strategies including making savings and borrowing more money to close a financial gap and stop having to dip into dwindling reserves.
On another item Cllr Stuchbury asked for the impact of climate change to be considered in the corporate plan. His area was hit by flooding before Christmas.
As Cllr Stuchbury was in full flow, Cllr Clarke intervened.
“Mr Stuchbury, I think we’ve let you talk quite a lot on the corporate plan.
If you have further questions I suggest you make an appointment and go through them, otherwise we are going to be here until about three o’clock this afternoon.”
But Cllr Stuchbury said: “I was going to make a formal proposal chairman, unless you are against this sort of thing.”
And as Cllr Clarke attempted to stop him, he added: “Oh, so you don’t like formal proposals.”
But the final straw for Cllr Clarke came when Cllr Stuchbury wanted to speak on a proposal to spend £180,000 on a new training facility for fire-fighters in Aylesbury.
“Mr Stuchbury seems to be taking over,” said Cllr Clarke, as she visibly sighed at the latest question.
The authority decided to go ahead with the proposal to create state of the art training facility, in place of an outdated firefighters’ tower.
The meeting came to an end amicably after 80 minutes when the YouTube live stream was switched off.