Full Council meeting today. The Council's business largely consists of receiving the minutes of the Executive Committee, Overview and Scrutiny Committees, and Licensing and Planning committees that have met over the last eight weeks. Although the minutes can be debated, thanks to a bit of misguided legislation by the previous government wholly supported by the present one, decisions, particularly decisions of the Executive cannot be overturned by the full Council. There are some major policy decisions reserved for the Council not least the budget but my view is that the inability to overturn or refer back Executive decisions is undemocratic.
I try to take a moderate position on the issue of directly elected mayors but under current legislation this democratic deficit would deepen with a directly elected mayor as they would only need the support of a third of the Council to get their budget proposals agreed. How democratic is that? Democracy needs checks and balances and although the power to scrutinise is important I do think it is insufficient on its own and whatever form of city and Council leadership we have, if a proposal can't get the support of half the Council then it should fall. Back to the current system - that the Council can't overturn Executive decisions has tended to make Council meetings a bit empty with a few show-piece debates on Notices of Motion, resolutions submitted to the Council in the names of five or more Councillors. On the agenda today, 20mph zones, youth unemployment and Withington Green. I would certainly like to see 20mph zones more widely extended across the city. In most residential areas, away from the main roads, you can't drive any faster than that safely anyway and we know that when it comes to road safety, speed kills. Regarding Youth Unemployment, there is a real risk that we will end up with another " lost generation " as we did in the eighties, something for which Manchester and other former industrial towns and cities are still paying the price.