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Bonkers Blog March 2011

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12 March (Part 1) - The chocolate teapot - it spouts and drips but it has no handle

Widow TwankeyHis success in exposing the false accounting councillor Craske (TLC) used to excuse his tripling of the price of Residents’ Parking Permits does not make Nicholas Dowling a popular man in council circles. His questions at meetings have provoked the mayor into losing her cool several times, last week she even lost her wrist watch, and she just doesn’t understand Dennis Healey’s old adage, ‘When in a hole stop digging’ or in teapot terminology, ‘keep your lid on’.

To prove the point Twankey wrote Nick a letter complaining that he didn’t clap loudly enough when he found himself part of an audience at an awards ceremony. He wasn’t even supposed to be there, the council had messed up its published schedule of meetings. What the hell is a mayor doing picking out individual members of the public and taking the trouble to write to them saying their “appreciation had been parsimonious”? But all credit to Nick; of all the people in the council chamber, the mayor couldn’t keep her eyes off him. Watch it Twankey, you are old enough to be his mother!

Last Wednesday Nick attempted to draw Twankey’s attention to an error in the minutes that had become available only a few minutes earlier. Minutes which Twankey had already acknowledged no one had had time to read. Nick got a put down and the unread minutes got signed off, mistake and all. As I said, the mayor is no Dennis Healey so she piled in with an email to Nick. It said…

It is because I am “a Chairwoman with so many years of self-acknowledged experience” that I adhere strictly to standing orders, protocols and laid down procedures. If residents have concerns that they want to express, there are many ways for them to do so and I advise them to take advantage of these facilities. There is accountability and openness at every stage of the Councils committee process, which are open for residents to participate in. To try to engage in that process at the ratifying stage is not particularly helpful to either party.

The Council does not produce verbatim minutes. Verbatim responses to questions from both the public and Members are produced, along with written replies to question that were not reached. These are produced approximately a week later. You can find everything that you wish to know on the Council’s web site. I (sic) appears, from your questions, that you are not particularly aware of how formal meetings are structured. May I suggest that you study Citrine’s ABC of Chairmanship, edited by Michael Cannell and Norman Citrine? It is a very useful book for people wishing to understand more about formal procedures, processes and associated matters to do with official meetings.

I hope that my email helps you in understanding Bexley Council a bit more but please do not hesitate to look anything up on the web site, that you are still not sure about.

Condescending eh? I suppose you want to know what happened next? I’m sorry it’s going to have to wait, I am sitting here with tears in my eyes and rolling around with mirth at what is coming next from Nick. No I’m sorry I can’t go on, this is just too hilarious.

Before I go I should explain my use of the teapot joke. It came to me from one of Twankey’s own lieutenants. He said she is an embarrassment and as much use as a chocolate teapot. No I am not making that up, he really said it and not anonymously either. Why would I make something up and risk being caught out for that when there are so many other provable events to draw on? The phrase “a Chairwoman with so many years of self-acknowledged experience” is drawn from one of Nick’s emails to the mayor and I believe a reference to the ‘God’s gift’ to chairmanship letter she sent to me.


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