Monday, July 23, 2007

Full council - the usual bearpit sadly

We had our full council last Wednesday - where all 90 councillors come together to debate the issues of the day.

Well that is what it says on the tin, the truth is a little different

It is a horrible bearpit where we all shout abuse at each other and drown out each other's contributions, and yes, there are times when I am as guilty as everyone else. It turns perfectly rational sensible people into hostile ranting animals.

I hate it, I hate full council, it is the worst meeting I go to during a council cycle, I see it as a waste of four hours, we achieve little, the public has long since been turned off, very few turn up unless it is to hear a short debate on something they are interested in (this month was the agonising debate about care-workers in the city), the press go home early and we spend the rest of the time shouting at each other.

What a total waste of time and energy.

If we expended as much passion resolving the issues as we do yelling and cat-calling we would solve the problems of the city in a heartbeat.

This month's meeting was a special pilot, we only discussed five issues and tabled the rest, whereas technically we could discuss 100 issues at our usual format meetings. But it didnt seem to me to be any better. Or at least the behaviour was no better.

It did give us all the opportunity to think about the topics and decide if we wanted to make a contribution to the debate, or at least it would have done if we had had more than 24 hours notice of them.....but I dont think it worked

What is to be done? Perhaps if more people came to listen we would be shocked into behaving properly? But while we behave as badly as we do, why would anyone want to?


Miranda said...

You're not the only councillor who feels like that about full councils, Louise. I've been complaining about them since the first month of my election. In fact, I won't speak at them in protest. I have fed my views into the Councillors' Commission about them and other "essential" meetings. Full council meetings need a massive overhaul. Good luck in reforming yours!!!

Kensington's Old Dick said...


you need the help of Old Dick to use his psychic and creative abilities to sort out these so called councillors out.

Perhaps the council should use the "Star Trek" method of resolving important issues, such as "like how many robotic peregrine falcons can we afford without becoming a total laughing stock", anyhow back to ST (original series) when Spock and Kirk had to battle it out in an arena for some limp wristed aliens pleasure.

I would pay good money to see Bernie "Call me madam" Turner mud/honey wrestling against "Chemical" Wendy Simons, or Mike "the toff" Storey arm wrestling "mighty" Joe Anderson, I know who my money would go on!.

A series of strength/skill events a bit like the pub games tv programme hosted by fiery fred truman from the 70's could be used to decide on split council decisions and also solve the coucil's money problems by having a pay for view channel on Sky or on a virgin. Sign me up Now!!!

scousepunx said...

If you're too scared to speak at council, why be a councillor?

JB said...

Liverpool's chronic lack of both political leadership and public scrutiny are mutually reinforcing, and have been for a long time.

You are showing a welcome glimmer of the former, this blog proves there is at least some appetite for the latter.

So maybe over time the democratic dysfunction can be reversed.

It does make me wonder if the system needs the jolt that something like an elected mayor would provide.

At the moment the lunatics have taken over the asylum, as you are seeing when confronting the vested interests on Prescot Road.

Louise Baldock said...

Scousepunk, I am not too scared to speak at council, I do speak, the point I am making is that full council meetings are "not fit for purpose".

I dont expect a Libdem like you to understand anything about this topic however. You talk up the importance of local democracy yet browbeat anyone who tries to contribute or says something you dont agree with.

I dont know if you are a councillor or if you have ever been to a full council meeting but believe me they are terrible!

Scousepunx said...

I shudder to think what would happen if you ever decided on a parliamentary career louise. Council is there for lively debate, if it gets vicious it is only because people feel so passionatly about their beliefs. Don't start complaing about it, a silent council would be far more worrying.

Louise Baldock said...

Scousepunx, shudder all you like, I have no intention of taking up a parliamentary career, although I have had ample chances over the years. I intend Liverpool to be the home for my political career, such as it is. Although frankly there is so much to do in K&F to bring it up out of the doldrums that I doubt there will be time to think about the bigger picture for a while.
You are completely wrong to say it is only vicious because people are passionate about their beliefs, it is not the political debate I object to, it is the personal abuse.
If we dont complain about things then they dont change. I have engaged our council meetings manager Charles Yankiah with my feedback on the last meeting, he didnt tell me to stop complaining. What kind of a democrat are you anyway?

Scousepunx said...

More so than those in the Labour Party it would seem...
Wasn't it Joe Anderson who threatened some student protesters at a council meeting once? In fact I know he tried to intimidate one of them at the count in May..

If Uncle Joe ever gets into power, we can kiss goodbye to everything that is beautiful about The Pool.

But back to the original debate..

If people are yelling personal abuse that is part and parcel of the game. Like it or not, you just have to get over it.

Louise Baldock said...

Then that is where we differ Scousepunx.

I absolutely refute your view (as a LibDem and probably a councillor - or former councillor - who shamefacedly wishes to remain nameless)

I disagree that it is the role of a councillor to "just get over it" when someone yells personal abuse at them. No other group of professionals within the whole country has to put up with such a scenario.

I am assuming hitherto that you are a man, women would be very unlikely to make such a statement.

Surely it is our role to do what we can to restrict our public representatives to only expressing or being subjected to negative or positive views to policy matters rather than personal ones.

You will have heard of employment tribunals for instance, or courts of law, that is where the "free for all", "say what you like", "insult at will" will find you.

If you cannot find anything constructive to say, shut up, that is what my upbringing taught me.

I wonder what yours taught you?

Whichever male Libdem you might be, I trust that one day the public, who are not stupid, will see through you and vote you out, if indeed they have not already done so.

Scousepunx said...

As a member of public office you have to get used to it, it is part and parcel of the job, it has happened since the dawn of time! I can't believe you'd be so niave to think that it could be different. A hotbed of passion, dedication and the occasional angry outburst is what makes democracy so beautiful. We can say what we want, when we want.. that's the point, geddit?! Or we can just sit there and be nice to each other... yeah because that will happen when both sides dislike each other so much!

You do enough winding up on this blog to warrant abuse, the ony difference is that you sit behind a pc screen and act all high brow, while others have the bottle to say it to your face.

I am not a councillor, I never wish to be because, if I'm honest, the majority are egotistical and have an over inflated sense of importance... that doesn't soudn like a good working environment to me! I am however an observer and like to watch the battle on a wednesday night in council now and then, or indeed watch the nerves and chaos of a count. Politics as it happens... it is what our fathers and mothers fought for after all.

Sorry if this has offended you, but you have to learn to take as well as give Cllr Baldock.

P.S. I am not a lib dem ;)

Louise Baldock said...

I am not offended. I guess we will have to agree to disagree about how the council chamber is the wrong way to do business.

However, if you went to a select committee for instance, or last night's 6 ward neighbourhood committee you would find councillors in constructive political debate, moving the agenda forward, scrutinising decisions etc.

That is what the public would prefer in my view, to see the thoughtful debates we have. We disagree with each other an awful lot but in a way that still allows members (councillors) to feel comfortable about making that contribution.

As to my hiding behind a PC, that is a nonsense. I am not anonymous. I use my own name and photographs of me and anyone can approach me in the street or in the town hall or at a surgery or a party meeting or anywhere they like about anything I have said in here, and they often do.

I am simply using this as another form of communication with my constituents, with fellow political activists, with friends and even with my mother from time to time!

I will admit to enjoying a bit of winding up and LibDem bashing in here, but they, like you, are free to respond in here if they want. As long as it doesnt get personal about my physical appearance, marital status, etc etc

I just delete those.

Come and say hello, I dont bite, in here or out there. I will take you to a select committee where you can see us debate things like the care-workers situation or the city's shameful record on homelessness or whatever it is. The difference is that we talk about possible solutions and ways forward not just yahboo shouting.

Then you can see what you prefer.

Scousepunx said...

hmmmm not sure, apparently you're a witch anyways, so you might cook me in a pot. :S