if a member of the public wants to ask a question at a Full Council meeting
he has to be quick on the draw. Questions are listed in the Agenda on a first come first served basis;
or at least they are supposed to be. The sequencing is done by cabinet member
Peter Read’s wife so there is the possibility of abuse, but then, apart from
there being less danger of news leaking out, any council employee could come
under pressure to bend the rules.
I had always assumed that councillors went through the same procedure which made me think that councillor June Slaughter must have been asleep on the job to have allowed her Old Farm Park question to be last on the list. 39 out of 39.
June is one of the more approachable Tories so I made a rather jocular comment about her lapse. She looked over her glasses at me and said it wasn’t her fault and mysteriously added. “it doesn’t work like that”.
So what does it work like? I made some enquiries.
I am informed by a source I believe to be reliable that the Dear Leader exercises her right to have the final say on councillor’s questions. June’s 39th position was a deliberate act of spite by a leader not best pleased at having awkward questions thrown at her on a previous occasion.
After the Mayor made it obvious that she cannot read a clock accurately and piped up ‘I’m in charge’ while the public laughed at her…
Gill MacDonald was allowed to put her question. It politely said
that implementation of the garden waste scheme was a right old mess and would
cabinet member Craske apologise for it?
He apologised immediately and excused himself by saying that more than 31,000 people had signed up for the garden waste service and about 20 new ones came forward every day.
Councillor MacDonald thought the bins were too big and heavy, they could not be taken through terraced houses or along alleyways. She asked if there had been any consultation to ascertain whether or not the bins were fit for purpose.
Councillor Craske said that the proposed service was put before the (Conservative dominated) Scrutiny committee in February and “at no stage did a single Labour councillor raise the issue”. It is too late now, he “has ordered 40,000 bins”. His Conservative colleagues were immune from the criticism.
Councillor Cafer Munur (Conservative, East Wickham) asked how many food waste bins had been reported broken. Councillor Craske said that “as of today the number of food waste bins that had been replaced was ten”. He said that if there were concerns about the caddies the time to have raised them was in February neatly avoiding the fact that no one had any idea of what they might look like back then.
A question from councillor Esther Amaning (Labour, Thamesmead East) asked about the medical and retail infrastructure that should support the housing developments in Slade Green.
Cabinet member Linda Bailey said the provision of medical and retail services is not the council’s responsibility although space for such would be provided.
Councillor David Leaf (Conservative, Longlands), who shows no sign of being the sharpest tool in the box, or even sharp at all, asked Peter Craske if he could tell everyone how wonderful the garden waste scheme really is.
Councillor Craske was keen to oblige.
31,860 people had signed up, a figure “far above any other council in the country”. Everyone will have received their bin by the end of next week.
Councillor Leaf could not have been listening because his supplementary question was to ask when the last of the bins would go out. The repeated answer included the interesting fact that the bins had cost only £1.50 each in batches of 10,000 at a time.
After managing to slip in a jibe about Labour councillors not being up to the job, Peter Craske sat down again, his bullet proof vest having once again performed flawlessly.
The thirty minutes of question time (public plus councillors) was close to being expired but councillor John Davey (Conservative, Crayford) was allowed a final question for cabinet member Don Massey. He wanted confirmation of his belief that new technology would produce efficiency savings.
Don Massey agreed that it should and would improve service to residents. He expected savings of £750,000 by 2018.
After short changing public questions by a minute and a half the Mayor brought councillor Massey to a halt at the 30 minute point to the very second thereby proving that there was nothing wrong with her clock 16 minutes and 23 seconds earlier.
She is just as bloody minded as most of her predecessors. Psst! Don’t mention Mayor Val Clark.