Thursday, 25 March 2010
It is interesting to note that the Council was sharply divided and there was a Note of Dissent making the telling but obvious point that the reasons given in the Report do not justify the Council in withholding the Grace. It is also seems that Members of Council that face contested election before the Regent House were more likely to sign the note of dissent or abstain from supporting the Report!
This Report will, of course, have to be discussed. And we now have the date of the Discussion. It will be on the 27th April 2010 (see http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/reporter/2009-10/weekly/6184/section1.shtml#heading2-2). It is important that we have a good turn out on that occasion, so please keep your diaries free for that afternoon...and if you can't make it please write a speech and have it read! Let us see how many senior officers and members of Council who signed the Report turn up to face the Regent House.
Once the Report has been discussed the Council will have to promote a Grace seeking approval of it (and the recommendation not to submit the 50 member Grace). That will be the Regent House's first opportunity to vote on this issue.
Thursday, 18 March 2010
Members of the Regent House will recall that just before Christmas some 79 members of the Regent House petition the Council under Statute A. Since then Council has been trying to decide what to do. It is divided but with a majority in favour of pressing on with the lift and delaying as long as possible the neccessity of facing the Regent House on this issue. This strategy has meant that the lift will be complete before the Regent House has a chance to vote. It is still unclear when we will have a chance to vote...but that day must come. It cannot be avoided.
Now for the technicalities.
Statute A,VIII,7 provides:
"Any fifty members of the Regent House may initiate a Grace for submission to the Regent House...." and in accordance with that provision 79 members of the Regent House initiated the following Grace.
That all construction works for a lift into the Regent House Combination Room be removed and the building returned to its former state, and that the Council report, as soon as convenient, to the Regent House with proposals to secure reasonable access to the Combination Room and associated rooms for those unable to use the stairs.
Now what happens next? Statute A, VIII, 9 (omitting irrelevant words reads as follows):
(b) If a Grace or amendment initiated under section 7 involves expenditure from University funds additional to that already authorized, the Council shall refer the Grace or amendment to the Finance Committee, and to the General Board or another body as appropriate, for their advice; in submitting such Grace or amendment to the Regent House, the Council shall at the same time publish a statement indicating how it is intended to make financial provision for the proposed expenditure."
As far as we know (and we can't be certain because nothing has been said officially) Council has declined simply to submit the Grace for ballot (with a flysheet explaining what a bad idea demolishing the lift is and how expensive it will be). Instead the Council is going to publish a Report explaining what a bad idea demolishing the lift is and how expensive it will be! Council will have to recommend that the Regent House approve the Report; and, of course, the only way in which the Regent House will be able to do that is by Grace! (Statute A, VIII, 5 provides:"Any proposal to be placed before the Regent House or the Senate for approval shall be in the form of a Grace...").
So by choosing to Report to the Regent House the Council has chosen the slowest route to a Grace. But a Grace there will be: the Regent House will be voting about whether it should be allowed to vote on the original Grace. But this will be after a torrid Discussion...what larks...except that to the aesthetic abomination of the lift has been added this unedifying pitcure of a Council seeking to avoid facing the Governing Body of the University....Fortunately, the Regent House cannot be avoided...much later than it should have the Regent House will be able to speak!
Saturday, 6 March 2010
What it should do is simple. It should submit the Grace to the Regent House and let the Regent House speak.... after reading the fly-sheets for and against the lift. Instead it seems to be considering a Report to the Regent House to explain why it is not putting the Grace. But it is obviously not a good reason to go down the Report route just because the Council finds the Grace an inconvenience....but what other reason can it have? The Report will have to approved by the Regent House. So the Regent House will get to vote then; but only after what will doubtless be a torrid Discussion and further delay! The Regent House is going to decide whether this lift stays or goes. It is actually the Governing Body of the University....so this is wholly appropriate. Let the Regent House speak! Council meets again on the 15th March 2010. Let us hope that common sense breaks out.
The plans for the lift have still not been published. So the construction proceeds hugger mugger (as far as that is possible while the Combination Room remains open). But we have a photo of the monster emerging....see above. It looks worse than was thought requiring the destruction of even more of the dias. The glass panelled balustrade is really sensitive to the 15th century context.