I have a confession to write dear reader, (you know who you are!). As a political geek I was very excited today. Why? Because tonight was my favourite full council out of the whole council cycle as it is so twee and has it’s own eccentricities and I love it. Tonight did not disappoint at all! I have called this blog piece `The Virgin Mary and Christmas Turkeys` in honour of Mary Betson and some of the side shows that happened tonight!
It all kicked off with CAST, Cross Simon and some of the churches forming a guard of honour round the entrance of the council chambers so that the councillors had to notice them and i assume they wanted to put pressure on councillors (i was surprised at Cross Simon’s political naivety). It was disappointing that no one had advised them to ask a question and that all that would happen tonight is the motion to host 100 refugees would be referred to Cabinet.
It was also interesting to see some of the public gallery. The Conservative candidates were there in force with Messers Gittus, Thomas and Garne all present. Anne Chalk, who confirmed her intention to stand in Shoebury was also there.
I referred to the Virgin Mary as it was Mary’s first full council as a cabinet member and I personally thought she did a good job, her responses were detailed and answered the question unlike some of the other responses and so if she carries on like this bodes well for the rest of her short political career (she is up for election in Prittlewell and unlikely to retain her seat)
Unfortunately she was one of the few people who performed well tonight and didnt end up looking a bit silly – some intentionally and some just made some silly mistakes. Now far be it from me to suggest they actually were turkeys but they certainly had a bad night tonight (mainly the independent party – sorry they are not a party, Mike Assenheim even made clear tonight he no longer gets a allowance as party leader.) I have listed them below;
One of the reasons I like tonight is Cllr Aylen presents the council with a Christmas log which is great fun! I also likes the way Rob Tinlin pays £40 if they finish by half 9 and feel he should do this for all full councils!!!
You may remember that last time Cllr Aylen pulled out Sooty and then forgot what question he wanted to ask!! He is fast becoming a caricature of himself and tonight he started off by putting lights around himself and turning them on when presenting the log so he was all lit up in blue. He also had a light up snowman in front of him all of the meeting! Most bizarre. He also mentioned on no less than 4 times his membership of the Working Bus Party which of course he was thrown off by Dictator (sorry) Leader Woodley at the end of the evening.
Cllr Woodley had an unusually poor time, he snapped at me who asked for a meeting to discuss homelessness saying that he left a meeting Ron attended after 10 minutes. It was 10 minutes to Ron as he turned up half hour late and I left as I had to go and work with the homeless rather than just talk about it. Incidentally watch this blog tomorrow for something that Cllr Woodley said at that meeting. Cllr Woodley always says his door is always open to anyone but tonight the door was firmly and rudely shut in my face. His evening then got worse when he had to make a public apology because he didnt declare an interest as a beach hut owner and so apologised for this oversight. He also announced how he was a strong Conservative supporter and always supports them.
Cllr Terry looked lost all night and Cllr Woodley must be wishing he could have got rid of him. Cllr Courtenay commented how he was lucky to be in post and the look on Woodley’s face when he said this was a classic. The moment of the night for him was when the Mayor announced that the Council had jointly won the Landlord of the Year and asked Cllr Terry to present who, with a red face, had to stand up and admit he had forgotten to bring the award! There was also a lengthy debate on HIV which was fairly non partisan apart from Cllr Terry who then complained that it was being made political!!!
Cllr Courtenay tonight came across as a sulking teenager. On the whole i like him but Cllr Jones firmly put him in place and all night he kept interrupting cabinet members with muttering and it was not a great performance which is a shame as he often makes good points.
Cllr Mcmahon made an interesting interjection in which she claimed that HIV education should be kept far away from the press but wanted creative ideas as to how to spread the message without cost – surely the media is a good way of doing this?
Cllr Davies (sporting an obvious wig which was two different colours) also interjected on the HIV debate talking about how HIV was important but that housing was a bigger problem and so we should be discussing that and not HIV – he does realise that there are two seperate budgets for the two issues doesnt he?
The night might have started badly for me but Ian Gilbert gave me some good news. As you know I am actively campaigning for a dual diagnosis worker and in the HIV debate he said `Sexual health is important but the major issue we have in health and the area where we need to be concentrating budget on addiction as Southend has a massive issue with addiction.` This is exactly what I am asking for.
An interesting night as i say overall but a lot of people will be looking to improve as their New Year’s Resolution.