night’s council meeting resulted in four hours of audio recording which will require rather a lot of listening if a report is ever to appear here. Perhaps I
shouldn’t bother, News Shopper reporter Tim MacFarlane got very close to summing
the whole thing up with the three sentences he Tweeted half way through the meeting.
There was quite a large turnout, must have been close to 50, most of whom were election candidates from three, perhaps more, parties. Nearly all of them left after an hour or so and who can blame them? I stuck it out until eleven thirty hoping things might get better but the back slapping became ever more sycophantic.
The meeting was in three main sections, the standard and well rehearsed question time, the council leader’s report, and then, because it was the last council meeting before the electorate has its say, the ‘goodbyes’. This is the big opportunity for almost every councillor to stand up and say how wonderful councillors of every party have been over the past four years - or even 40 years in some cases. You wouldn’t think that there were two opposing parties in Bexley, they all claimed to love each other.
That part of the meeting is quite informal with a fair amount of mucking around which in the circumstances is probably as it should be. Three councillors - just possibly four, I’ll have to check the tape, swore. Councillor Peter Craske said “crap’, councillor Colin Campbell said “bloody’ and councillor June Slaughter mentioned my name. I’m not sure that what she said about me is wholly correct but I have probably given her cause at one time or another. (Not that she was particularly critical.)
Goodness knows when I will find time to review such a long recording but the question time session needs analysis even if the rest of it is barely worth the effort.
There was an amount of political point scoring and silliness from the Conservatives, and the usual signs of political bias from the chairman mayor. Tories who sell fireworks to under 18s are rapped by the Licensing Committee and Labour people who do the same thing are prosecuted. It‘s much the same in council meetings. Tory councillors who abuse their Labour opposite numbers receive no criticism; Labour councillors caught grinning are admonished.
15 councillors are not standing for reelection. At the end of the meeting two of them exchanged friendly words and shook my hand. No surprise there, they are always friendly. Of the other 13 only three have ever acknowledged my presence. If the electorate does its job properly that ratio may improve, but it’s a big if. Most of Bexley will vote Conservative in total ignorance if what their X is buying.