It’s that time of the month again, the parish hall is calling and the great and good descend for another fantastical parish council meeting.
Mr Beck kicks off reading apologies for absence, Stuart Thornton straight on the attack asks where the absent people are? Do they have better things to do? He is shot down by Cllr Saint-John with the accuracy and ruthlessness of an SAS sniper.
Not deterred Stuart asks why minutes do not reflect the reasons he left a meeting early, i.e. that he felt the chair at the time was not doing his job. Move on says Mr Beck!
Again Stuart pops his head above the battlements to suggest that the prices paid for emptying bins seem on the expensive side. There is general agreement on this, but not on what to do, a motion is passed to vaguely look at it in some way.
Mr Beck answers a query and confirms tweeting is allowed in meetings! Huurah, move on!
As the main session starts a few familiar faces drift in, most notably Mr Lewis in a provocative t-shirt. 3 Police PCSOs also troop through the door and are not so subtlety questioned by the public as to why they are there.
The main event kicks off with a question about repair jobs on the Green outstanding from three years ago. Cllrs Burton and Baker promise to progress, no one can remember that far back.
A greenbelt question on what arrangements will be made for schools when the new houses planned by RMBC are built. Cllr Dalton says the planners will this into account at the time, Cllr Thornton disagrees saying the infrastructure plans offer no money for improvements. It’s a complex subject but I happen to know he’s right and she’s wrong.
Another question along similar lines, saying Anston needs a civic centre, all present broadly agree but the feeling is it is now too late for such things, it should have been done in the seventies and the time has gone. They have obviously not seen my plan to divert the A57 and reclaim Anston for the people. It’s a plan as cunning as a bag of foxes, but we move on to……
Why don’t we cut Dinnington Comp in two and bring half of it to Anston? Then kids won’t have to go as far…. Hmmm no one touches this with a big stick.
Cllr Burton asks why are we discussing this, it’s all in the hands of private developers, demoralized we move on again.
Mr Lewis asks SJ what he was playing at when he spoke up for the Brethren at the planning board. It’s an old theme and is greeted with sighs, SJ tells the questioner to get bent in a nice way.
Clive Jepson gets a similar reply when he asks SJ about his contact with the Brethren prior to their planning application. No further comment…
We turn to the worst kept secret in Anston next, the top secret land deal the Council is involved in. Apparently there is an update but we can’t be told what it is because the thing we all know about is secret. This is getting boring…!
It is pointed out that if the deal is not kept secret the Council may lose the land. That’s it knackered then, because by now even the flippin Martians must know.
A letter next asking Cllrs to declare whether or not they are for building on greenbelt. Cllrs Thornton and Baker are against, SJ says it’s not that simple, folks have to live somewhere. Beck and Ireland say wait for next Save Our Greenbelt meeting, Stonebridge says RMBC have been screwed by the route of HS2 so couldn’t do as much on brownfield as they’d like, Burton says as a last resort she’s for it.
Stuart says we can’t blame central government for things like this, RMBC decide where to put the houses, and they just gave Dinno another 200. No, it’s 40 says Cllr Dalton, ignoring the fact that RMBC themselves say it’s 200, sorry Judy 0/2.
A letter from Mr Beck to Kevin Barron is denounced as misleading by Stuart, he’s a terrier this man! “You’ll not get rid of me Stuart” laughs Mr Beck as the audience applaud. The applause was in favour of binning Mr Beck I must report.
A letter from the independent monitor who attended last months pensioner bashing meeting, he wants a public meeting with himself and the public only, no councillors allowed. This sounds interesting and is welcomed universally, although no one actually knows why he wants a meeting or what it’s for. A vote is taken to invite all Anstonians to a public meeting for some purpose no one knows. All we do know is some councillors have been complained about but we don’t know who.
I can’t help noticing the Council have brought their fan club again this month, all 3 of them in fact. They mainly snigger and quietly use the F word between themselves, booing the odd member of the public who dares to get frustrated at the slow pace of progress.
How better to consult with the public is discussed, along with the possibility of working more closely with Dinno Town Council. Councillors say they are keen, but it’s all a bit wooly, and no concise action is promised.
Stuart goes down in flames for daring to suggest the Council consult before buying any more land, he picks himself back up to ask where the 1500 quid is coming from for Anston Day.
Not sure says Judy, we can decide at the time says SJ. Move on! Says Mr Beck.
It all gets slightly shouty as Cllrs discuss various standing orders, Stuart loses again and heckling starts to break out as we progress towards the end of the meeting.
A vote is taken to keep the land purchase secret, this provokes an exclamation of “yes” from the fan club, don’t know what’s going on there.
A residents asks when they can expect a reply to a letter, they are told the letter is acknowledged as received but not to hold their breath.
A resident tried to sneak a second question and get a cruise missile of a telling off, some wag suggests the councillors pay for Anston Day themselves, yes, it just got silly.
A final question to the independents accusing them of being on the fence over greenbelt, protecting the countryside will stop our children from having affordable homes apparently. Clive points out that there are many affordable homes not selling at the moment, and that the gentlemen in question supported the brethren so is hardly unbiased.
I wonder when people will stop talking about these new homes as if they are going to be council houses or something, they will be private, expensive and profitable comrade.
It’s been two and a half hours and there is a feeling of relief as muck rakers, the Police and general public leave the councillors to their private session.
This meeting has shown what a paralysed body this Council is, no real issues are debated with any great zeal or openness, the common good is sacrificed for infighting and the Labour Party line.