I need to leave the leaflet top ten themes for a couple of days because of events which are not outside my control that I want to address.
Last night I went to a council meeting and sat in the public gallery listening to the debate. It’s been a long time since I attended one of these. The debate was to accept the budget for this year. Our new councillor for Newton proudly took his seat for the first time. I was surprised by the number of opposition members who were absent, I counted eleven. I suppose many of them are up for election and don’t expect to be re elected. Our two Lib Dem councillors who claim to be a strong voice on the council were missing. This is the second major meeting they have missed recently.
On a point of order one councillor it was alleged had come for dinner signed the register and then left. Not a good start but it got worse. The Mayor who I know and greatly respect is quietly spoken and mumbled so that he could not be heard in the public gallery. During the debate when the opposition were talking the labour benches continuously and noisily interrupted. When the opposition did the same “on a point of order” the deputy leader objected. The council leader made it clear that with their massive majority they could do more or less what they pleased because they had a mandate to do it. I don’t know what orbit the council are in but it is a different one to the planet Sandwell that I live on. The deputy leader made his case for 2.9% increase in council tax but the opposition never tabled an alternative budget or voted against it. I think it is sad that Conservative Central Office could not assist with such a vital document. It left the debate flat and our opposition parties looking as they are: ineffectual. The debate ended for me when the deputy leader called the Tory leader that ignorant git opposite. The mayor never challenged this or asked him to apologise and the Tory leader although he complained, meekly accepted it. Labour lost the debate for me at this point and I left shortly afterwards.
Verdict: very disappointing, must do better. I think I’m going to attend a lot more of these over the coming months and report on the blog the antics.