It’s a calm and peaceful evening in Dinnington, there’s beer in the fridge and the latest episode of Game of Thrones to watch on telly. I however decide to eschew this masterpiece of slashing, blood and heaving bussomry, Anston Parish Council beckons and the game is afoot!
The meeting kicked off with Cllr Crowther in the chair for finance and general matters, 3 Borough Cllrs were present along with the usual supporting cast, Cllr Beck watching from the side-lines. Stuart Thornton opened with some concerns on grants that have been issued but we moved swiftly to the main session as more Cllrs and public arrived.
Mr Beck took the chair to announce a presentation by RMBC highways maintenance, it was explained to us that the budget for repairs is 5 million quid or thereabouts and that roads are regularly surveyed and repaired as funds allow. Residents raised concerns about the quality of repairs and work carried out by utility companies. The officer defended his position saying that funds often meant repairs had to be temporary and overall contractors do a good job. Lack of money and equipment means the Council cannot always provide the service we would like, but they do their best.
I have to say this was received with not a little bit of scepticism.
Cllr Ireland commented that RMBC do a good job but the roads are rubbish, not quite sure how you can have it both ways! Cllrs Burton and Dalton held their tongues throughout.
A question came from a resident asking about a sustainability impact assessment for building work near the Butterfly House. Cllr Burton jumped in and said that there were no plans to build near the Butterfly House, to which Stuart enquired about just how much Borough Cllrs know about the future sites and policies document that isn’t supposed to be out yet and details the decimation of our green belt?
I can assure everyone that all Borough Cllrs know exactly where the next big building sites are going; they went for a briefing on it ages ago. In fact by the time you read this the parishes should know as well.
Cllr Burton denied this however, it’s confidential don’t you know?
Mr Lewis asked about the pending land deal and called for the chairman’s head on a platter, Judy Dalton replied that it is a complicated question. Stuart disagreed, finding the chairman’s head very appealing; he was instantly attacked by Cllr Stonebridge who accused him of sound bite politics.
It got some applause so maybe he has a point!
The skate park was discussed and the chairman accused of fobbery, which is the wilful fobbing off of the public. Mr Lewis accused various Cllrs of wearing nappies and Stonebridge and Thornton clashed again. It got a bit shouty.
There followed much arguing over who interrupted who and who did what which saw Mr Beck getting redder and redder and Stuart and Stonebridge especially getting louder and louder. Cllr Saint-John was moved to express his despair at how the Council was conducting itself lately as Mr Beck wrestled back control.
The local plan was discussed and Stuart accused more or less everyone of delaying discussion so it was too late for the Council to object or comment. Cllrs Dalton and Burton in particular had not acquitted themselves well according to him. SJ jumped in and Cllr Ireland this time lamented the poor form in which meetings are held.
Cllr Ireland continued to call for a well-rehearsed vote of confidence in the chairman, this led to severe heckling from Mr Lewis in particular and comments from Stuart along the lines of you must be joking. Mr Beck’s head was called for again. Cllr Ireland poo pooed this and in summing up said that Mr Beck’s head was in more demand than is decent and certain people (Stuart) should stop being nasty. This was greeted with mirth from the audience, but support came from the Council fan club (all one of them)
The vote was carried easily as the flock rushed into the pen.
An RMBC planning document on how sustainable the Core Strategy is was dismissed by all as gobbledy gook, except Judy who said it was technical and rather good. Hmmm.
Final questions from the public… A merciless attack by Mr Lewis on the vote of confidence enjoyed by Mr Chairman, then a strong attack by the Council fan club on Stuart calling him a puppet.
No one was very surprised when Stuart pointed out that the numerous commercial contracts the questioner holds with the Council might have something to do with the line of questioning. And let’s not examine that one too closely, meeting closed job done.
So to sum up, a depressing return to bitch politics, no real decisionsor debate leaving a frustrated public who at one point were described by Cllr SJ as anoraks with nothing better to do.
The movers and shakers in the building are clearly the Labour Borough Councillors, who, opposed by the two main independents, use the grumpy old men brigade to shout down any common sense by sheer weight of numbers.
Everyone else round the table seems to be either sheep or cannon fodder, so essentially we have Bodie and Doyle vs. Ronald Wealsey and Victor Meldrew.
Hmmm, at least Game of Thrones is waiting at home to help me wind down.