A messy, chaotic meeting the other night. All the way through it seemed like there was no sense of control over the agenda. No criticism of May Blake, the current chair of the council, it was the usual pre-election meeting and it’s a difficult one to chair.
There were many kind words said about the councillors who will be retiring – all of whom have done a lot for the district. We were presented with a completely new set of recommendations on the staff redeployment and redundancy policy, bounced on us at the last minute by Cllr Bailey. I almost felt sorry for him. He was clearly struggling to explain his proposals as the rest of the Council – rightly – were trying to grapple with the detail and trying to understand why this had to be a last minute change.
It was probably the most animated part of the meeting (except moving standing orders… ooh, exciting!). Cllr Bailey had been trying to explain his changes, and had run out of time – at this point the chair asked if he should carry on, which led to a longer discussion about whether he should be doing it in the first place. Bailey looked like he just wanted to get it over with.
Tory Geoff Roberts had put on a motion about the Army not sending packages for free – which was blatant politicking. The motion, which had come from Conservative Campaign Headquarters, apparently, was wrong in it’s premise, wrong in fact and wrong for wasting everyone’s time. I’m guessing that the speech that was put by the Leader could well have been written by Conservative Campaign Headquarters too – lots of “boo hiss” bad Labour Government, letting down the troops, etc. etc.
I’m not happy with the situation that our troops are in. I’m not happy with the decisions that have led to the position. But to make cheap political stunts like this, just because there is an election coming, is crass.
Other daft political posturing included the green agenda. We pushed a load of green issues at budget time – we thought that it was the way that the council should move, and we tried to convince the Tories – who wouldn’t have it. So it was natural for us to follow it up with a motion about the “Nottingham declaration” on climate change. We think that the council should sign up for it, and as a natural follow-on from the budget, we placed it as a motion at council.
We were criticised for being “political” and of course it’s political – we put it forward because we believe it’s right.
Turned out that there was a report (a rather weak report) about climate change on the agenda which commits us to nothing. It was one of those reports where it would do nothing. Cllr Baldock accused us of being political in having a motion that would actually commit us to do something, and wouldn’t accept out motion as an amendment (to save a lot of hot air later).
After what seemed like an age (but was probably half an hour), the Tories voted against the Nottingham agreement, and instead backed their “do very little” strategy. This was 10pm and there was still a lot left on the agenda.
Time creeped on, and we got to 11pm, at which point someone is supposed to “move standing orders” to keep the meeting going until everything has been discussed. When it came to a vote to see if we should continue the meeting – there was a fair proportion of people who just wanted to go home. It had been that kind of meeting. Regardless of the fact that there was a vitally important (part 2, therefore non-public) item on the agenda.
Common sense prevailed, we got through the rest of the agenda in record time (10 minutes) and the meeting was over shortly afterwards.
No press or public at the meeting, and probably a good thing.
I wonder sometimes if the April meeting is worth being held at all. It always ends up as a bun-fight, and neither side comes out of it with any dignity. They could arrange for a meeting at the beginning of March and that could be the end of it. It was only because some decisions had been left until the statutory “last minute” that we had to meet and decide some points.