The second part of
last Wednesday’s Council meeting was for the most part agreeing the make up of new
Committees and allocation of jobs for the boys and the girls. Routine and
quickly dealt with it may have been, but far from unimportant.
Following the behind the scenes squabbling over who should be Leader of the Council, the Conservatives showed a united public front by unanimously voting for Teresa O’Neill again. Proposed and seconded by the newly appointed Jackasses in the Box, Councillors Camsey and Clark who had been bobbing up and down all evening backing everything they were commanded to do.
The Labour Group chose Councillor Daniel Francis (Belvedere) to be their Leader again.
Teresa O’Neill voting for herself
The Mayor then announced that she had chosen her Cabinet and their names were set out in the Agenda, thereby proving, if proof was needed, that the public vote was a sham.
The next sham was to determine the size of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees. That too had been decided in advance as all the details were printed in the Agenda. The Jackasses duly proposed and seconded an increase.
Until 2014 there were seven Scrutiny Committees but for the last four years there have been only three. Now that the number of Councillors has been reduced by more than a quarter there are to be four Scrutiny Committees.
Buried in the small print is the fact that there is to be only one Vice-Chairman per Committee instead of the rather ridiculous two so the overall pay increases are not excessive. Instead of three Chairman on £8,000 a year and six Vice-Chairman on £3,000 a year each (£42,000) there will be four of each. (Four x £8,000 and four x £3,000. £44,000) †. I am indebted to Councillor Andy Dourmoush (Conservative, Longlands) for correcting my initial assumption based on continuing with two Vice-Chairmen per Committee. His intervention is most welcome.
Councillor Stefano Borella (Labour, Slade Green & Northend) complained that the Conservatives had increased from 25% to 50% the proportion of Committee Members required to call in decisions before Scrutiny Committees which tended to reduce their ability to question things. He wanted to see the number put back to 25%. In Conservative Bromley any five Councillors are enough and in Labour Greenwich any two Committee members. “Why are Bexley Conservatives scared of decisions being scrutinised?” Come on Stef, you know the answer to that, it is because Bexley is a malign one woman dictatorship.
As forecast would happen if the Tories were given too big a majority, Leader O’Neill said that with more than 75% of Councillors being Conservative she had been given a mandate to do what she likes.
Needless to say, Councillor Borella’s suggestion was thrown out. The Tories in Bexley have never liked scrutiny whatever form it takes.
The Labour Group asked that they should be represented on some of the outside bodies which require Councillor participation. Another lead balloon.
The two Jackasses then bobbed up in turn to propose and second the new Councillor allowance scheme. At no time did anyone mention what they were so webcast viewers will not know.
They had decided to pump up their allowances by 2%, the same increase awarded to rank and file Council employees and that in future years Councillors will get increases on the same basis. This was something that the Conservatives kept very quiet about during the election period but after an eight year freeze it is not unexpected and on a very different scale to what the Labour Councillors in Tower Hamlets awarded themselves the moment they got back into the Council Chamber. A nice fat 70%.
Every Councillor both Labour and Conservative enthusiastically voted for their pay rise.
The final item up for a vote was to appoint Council Officer Nick Hollier as temporary Monitoring Officer. After Mr. Akin Alabi disappeared from view once it was discovered that he was neither a solicitor nor a barrister, Ms. Terry Osborne came on to the scene but she too has done a runner.
Mr. Hollier once told me that I was “abusive and offensive” for including the word liar just once in a written complaint after Bexley Council had published lies about me. I do not believe Mr. Hollier is a particularly unreasonable individual but he has shown how eager he is to follow instructions from above.
There are many changes to be made on the Bonkers Councillor pages. A job for tomorrow.
† Both pre-increase figures.