Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The biter bit?

The Town Council meeting was an interesting affair last night.  It was the first time that the newly elected Councillors had a chance to meet up after the seismic change brought about by the decisive result in our Town Council election.

From 2007-2011 Frodsham Town Council was dominated by Labour members/former Labour members.  Depending on how you count, and whether you include former members or not there were either 7 or 8 of them out of the 16 members. They had a strangle hold on Council business.  After our elections there are now 2 Labour members/former members - 1 a current member and 1 a former member.

They decided that they wanted to challenge me - which is their entitlement, although I have to say from my point of view what they did was unnecessary and unedifying and breaks the tradition that Mayor makings should be unpartisan.  Certainly I never dreamed of disturbing the Mayor makings of my political opponents.  I have always wished them well even if I had been excluded from the deliberations in selecting the candidates!

First I had Cllr Pammi Taylor suggesting that the role of Chairman of the Council and Mayor be split - she was stated that she was worried about the time I could devote to the role.  During the debate on the appointment of a Mayor the various candidates, by tradition say nothing.  I kept my mouth shut until I was voted into office.  Once in the chair I was able to advise Cllr Taylor that I had advised Cllr Mike Jones, the Leader of CWaC a week ago that I did not want a senior role at CWaC this time as I wanted to devote my efforts to turning the Town Council around.  Pammi looked surprised and somewhat stunned.

Then I had Cllr Kyle McGregor have a go.  I proposed and had passed almost unanimously the vote of thanks to the outgoing Councillors.  I thought it had been unanimous - but Kyle chimed out to say he had abstained.  He explained he had abstained on the pretext that he couldn't support the assertions made in the Frodsham First election materials.  He used stronger language than that which lead me having to warn him about the risks he ran regarding defamation. (Cllrs do not have carte blanche to say anything they want in Council meetings) I also advised him about the risks of being reported to the Standards Committee if he persisted.

After the meeting he and I continued our exchanges of views.  He and Pammi told me that they took exception to a number of things that were publicised which included:

1 - pointing out who were members of the Labour party; and who had nominated whom in the elections;
2 - the issue of the 'secret meetings' - he told me they were just meetings of colleagues who had been friends for years;
3 - pointing out that FTC at the direction of the old Council had paid monies to Whitby High School; and
4 - pointing out that the support I had received regarding the defibrillators had been begrudging.

So what are the facts?
1 - The membership of the Labour party information was drawn from what the candidates had previously stated and from their Declarations of Members Interests;
2 - Over the years we have seen these gatherings, have been told about them, have witnessed their effects, and one of my colleagues had to complain about a formal meeting being scheduled and she wasn't told that it was convening;
3 - The Council's accounts state clearly that Whitby High School received monies from FTC; and
4 - The question of support regarding the defibrillators is a matter of personal opinion - but there are others who share my view.

Kyle was also somewhat troubed that I had chosen to reserve some of my comments to election time and had not raised them in the Council chamber.  Well, first, that is my right.  Second, choosing your moment is part of politics.  Third I only became aware of the Whitby High School issue on 26 April 2011 - during the 'purdah period' when one is advised against raising overtly political or contentious issues - so I did.

So where does all this take us?  You judge - are they just sore losers?  Democracy and debate is alive and kicking - but as I advised the members last night - respect for each other needs to be centre stage.  I do hope they play the 'ball' not the 'man.'