Before moving onto the agenda, I want to pay tribute to Margaret Sheldrick, former Council Chair and Birchington Cllr. I first met her about the same time as Brian Goodwin and she was Deputy Chair of NTCA at the time I was an Officer way back in about 2005. Fierce intellect and definitely didn’t put up with any messing about but with a warm humour, she was respected across the Chamber and a lovely woman. Even with the illness coming back again and again, she never let it show. A true example of what a Councillor should be.
The Hartsdown Skatepark petition was put forward first. Cross-Party support and all Councillors, Worrow’s abstention aside, voting in favour, Debate on this one revolved around whether it was possible to get this before the Cabinet meeting later this month or to put it to August's meeting. There seemed to be agreement to push hard to get it on the agenda for a couple weeks time. I don’t see why it should be a problem. Funding and Planning other issues but there was real unity on this one.
This is where the problems began. Members of the public (unless Im mistaken, Claire Mendelsohn) holding up print outs of “With Any Luck, You’ll Resign” while shouting “homophobes”. Eventually they were thrown out after refusing the Chair request not to interrupt the meeting. This was during the notice of motion (vote of no confidence in Worrow as Diversity Champion) which Labour and TIG voted against debating.
On a debate about the Steam Trust it blew up again when Mick Tomlinson pointed out that Worrow had been using his phone in the Chamber during the meeting. Worrow claimed he was “reading the latest smears from the homophobes” and when understandably and rightly Tory Councillors complained about this he shouted “practice what you preach” and “plural, it was a plural”. However in a moment of true insight, he said that Labour was doing everything to “burden the ease” during the Leaders Report.
On Members Allowances, Council decided not to backdate it, but still to take the increase. It was revealed by Clive Hart during this debate that the underspend for last year was around £1.2m, something I will return to once Ive seen some figures for this, probably around Cabinet meeting time. Labour, TIG and the Independent Group voted yes while the Conservatives voted no. The point was made again that this increase in Allowances might encourage Councillors from different backgrounds to stand. I don’t think I need to labour the point too much but not once during the by-election did Allowances come into my thinking to stand and I doubt very much it mattered to any of the other 5 candidates. I don’t believe it matters half as much as Labour thinks it does.
So, another meeting filled with unedifying moments and the usual complaints about lack of scrutiny and due diligence. Goodee…