May Council meeting is unlike any other, it is mainly ceremonial and this report will deal only with that aspect of it. Family
and friends of the new and old Mayors turn up dressed for the occasion along with
several former Councillors some of whom definitely don’t bother.
There is a party atmosphere with a buffet and free drinks served up by friendly staff to those with political connections; but not for the likes of you and me who pay for it.
Nevertheless it is a pleasant enough evening and the self-congratulations were reasonably well judged. Outgoing Mayor Sybil Camsey was almost entertaining.
More entertaining is to listen to off duty Councillors. One who has almost never spoken to me before addressed me by first name while passing by. Better not say who it was in case the Leader takes umbrage, she did once before in similar circumstances.
Another Tory said his colleagues were “just a bunch of shits”. A bit harsh, I assume he meant the leadership. Maybe I should ask him to take over BiB.
The gossip about the disappearing Joe Pollard was that he had fled to Thailand in a hurry - or Singapore according to another - both implying the suddenness of the departure was reason for speculation. The Head of Electoral Services told me that holding the by-election a week after the EU Referendum was a legal requirement. By law Referendums cannot be held on the same day as any other election, so the speculation about controlling EU turn out is ill founded.
Probably speculation should be avoided about legal boss, Akin Alabi, too. Normally he sits alongside the Mayor offering advice and guidance on procedural matters but last night he was relegated to a dark corner. Advice was coming from his deputy Lynn Tyler. Maybe not being on the solicitors’ list has not gone down well, but then it drew a blank on Mrs. Tyler too.
Definitely on the top table was new Chief Executive Gill Steward. Have you read Mrs. Steward’s career history yet?. Let’s hope she manages to resist the crooked ways of Bexley Council. Her predecessor is still under consideration by the Crown Prosecution Service for a Misconduct charge.
For the coming civic year the Mayor is Councillor Eileen Pallen, the Labour contender being severely beaten by the massed Tories as was entirely predictable. Not so predictable was that the three UKIP Councillors voted Tory too and when asked why afterwards said that it was because Councillor Pallen is “nice”.
I’m in no position to argue with that although recent history shows that even ‘nice’ Councillors prove to be incompetent tyrants as Mayors. Just look at the last one, Councillor Sybil Camsey.
Mayor Pallen has chosen Councillor Val Clark as her Deputy. Fortunately the Deputy Mayor does nothing at meetings so probably there will be no more Widow Twankey moments. Shame.
An informal moment during a recess.
Whilst Councillor Eileen Pallen’s selection as Mayor has been known to me for
some time, I had failed to pick up the fact that Councillor Rob Leitch was to be the
new Deputy Leader. It was clearly included in the Agenda but it’s been a busy
week and I didn’t get around to looking.
It’s an interesting choice by his fellow Tory Councillors. Rob cannot be flavour of the month with Leader O’Neill; think Old Farm Park. Perhaps they are trying to send a not so subtle message.
Whilst congratulations must be due to Rob Leitch on his meteoric rise to high office in just two years since his first election as Councillor I am nevertheless disappointed in him. Two Councillors told me that the Deputy Leader can choose his portfolio so he could have taken Environment and Leisure and saved a few parks from closure about which he campaigned so hard and spoke so eloquently only a matter of weeks ago. Instead he has taken Education, thus displacing John Fuller, the only Cabinet Member who never wasted his time scoring political points, doesn’t insult members of the public and has never been caught out lying or - excuse me - bullshitting.
Maybe Councillor Leitch was not as sincere about Old Farm Park as I had believed, it is foolish to trust any of Bexley’s ruling party. Didn’t Councillor Leitch vote for park sales at several budget meetings a year ago? Yes he did.
But suppose he has been given the Deputy Leadership as a challenge to the Great Dictator. What could she do about it? Maybe SWMBO could do an about turn on the matter of an elected Mayor. Seven years ago Bexley Council rejected the idea of an elected Mayor following one of their sham consultations. They gave it no publicity and only 99 people responded, probably all Councillors and their cronies. A newspaper poll subsequently showed 85% of the public in favour. They know not what they do!
If Teresa O’Neill went down the elected Mayor route and the public fell for it and elected her she really could be the undisputed Fat Controller. The stuff of nightmares. I shouldn’t give her ideas.
Note: As has been noted recently - thanks Danny - BiB has not been on peak form recently and is suffering from lack of available time. There are other things in life that have to be done! However if all goes according to plan the recording of the meeting will be reviewed at the weekend to see if there is anything from the formal business that is worth a quick report. A few Labour suggestions may have been put down. Not that that is news of course.