March 25, 2008 12:00 AM

Lib Dem County Councillor David Jenkins wrote an open letter to Cllr Mac McGuire, cabinet member for transport, refuting his allegations on the Lib Dem budget proposal.

The letter reads as follows:

"Dear Mac,

"At ECS scrutiny last week you implied a link between the Lib Dem budget proposal to save money by reducing the minute taking at Council meetings and the Guided Bus team's apparent practice of not documenting meetings at which key decisions were made.

"That's ridiculous.

"The Lib Dem suggestion was sensible and pragmatic. It would save money by eliminating minute taking at meetings which are largely for information and where decisions are not made. It's got absolutely nothing to do with what would be expected to be the practice in a project management environment as experienced by the Guided Bus team.

"By contrast one might expect that meetings of engineers working on the Guided Bus project in which significant decisions are being made would be minuted. After all, engineers typically work with drawings that are routinely kept up to date and with documents which are reissued with new version numbers when key parameters change. In fact they probably work with a project management methodology which requires them to carefully note decisions, the assumptions behind them and their likely consequences.

"This is a £100 million plus project. Are you really telling me that decisions which affect its impact on local communities are routinely made without serious deliberation and that this deliberation is not captured so that decisions can later be justified should this be necessary?

"Surely the communities through which the Guided Bus project is being constructed are entitled to be considered, even consulted, and yet there is no evidence that this has taken place. There have been no requests for data to be shared so that objective decisions can be made. Is it possible that the Guided Bus team is under your instruction not to consider options which might prejudice the projects likely cost and/or delivery schedule?

"At a time when politicians are being encouraged more than ever to be transparent in their decision making, to consult widely with their electorates and to be leaders in shaping communities shouldn't you be a little more open and approachable where matters such as this are concerned? Shouldn't you keep the then Council Leader's promise to consider the impact of the project on local communities? Shouldn't you at least talk to the people whose lives and businesses are affected by it?

"What's done is done but we must learn from mistakes and with the Guided Bus Project there have been several. These have characterised the Council as arrogant and insensitive to local opinion and they have shown it to be blinkered in the way which it addresses the Project. It should be balancing the interests of the communities of Cambridgeshire with its need to deliver the Project on time and within budget. But all it does is the latter. Local people don't matter. This Council doesn't do community engagement!"

Notes to Editors

1. Councillor Jenkins is available for comments at 07739 758 859.

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