The Vale of White Horse District Council Cabinet met on 4 December and discussed the future of Old Abbey House. Most of the discussion – and, of course, the decision – was in the “closed” session: we don’t yet know the outcome, but are not optimistic. Three of us made brief statements to the Cabinet meeting and this was followed by a few minutes of comments from Cabinet members, no actual discussion. One interesting, but depressing, fact that emerged was that they are spending £20k per month on maintenance and security for OAH! If you are interested, you can see a recording of the Cabinet meeting here (our bit is about 4 minutes in).
We have since heard that the decision has been “called in” by the Council’s Scrutiny Committee, which will meet on 15 December – again in closed session. We will be making representations to them: information that is being revealed in dribs and drabs shows that the procedure that has been followed is very different from what we and the public were told was going to happen/was happening and the Civic Society believes this may be in contravention of the Council’s own rules and policies.
We sent in a long written submission to the Scrutiny Committee, raising a whole series of questions about how this matter has been handled over the last 18 months: is the decision (whatever it is) in the best interest of residents? was the decision taken in a proper manner, by appropiate people and based on full and accurate information? have there been any breaches of the Council’s Code of Conduct, particularly in relation to failure to meet promises re public consultation?
Three of us presented verbally to the meeting and this led to what seemed to be a very uncomfortable discussion among the Committee members, several of whom wanted the discussion to be held in open session, but the officers prevented it. You can watch it all here if you want.
We don’t know what they decided, but it will go back to Cabinet tomorrow (Friday 18th) – probably still in closed session – so we have no idea yet what is happening or when we will hear.