Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Full council meeting tonight, full of incident

A miracle happened tonight, I actually enjoyed a full council meeting for the first time ever.

I dont know why that should be exactly, but I suspect that despite earlier misgivings, the new format does suit me after all. Instead of having upwards of 90 motions on the paper, we now really only have half a dozen.

But also of course I enjoyed it because we discussed lots of very important topics at length where I had lots of things I wanted to say. Those who have seen me in a select committee will know that I speak to every single item, ask hordes of questions, really need to know lots of details and get very involved. Whereas I dont speak very often at full council because it doesnt really lend itself itself to contributions. In the end I only spoke once tonight but could and would have spoken at least another twice if the time had allowed.

We had some very good contributions from external speakers, a man from the anti-war coalition about the LCC pension fund (Merseyside wide) investing in weapons, a young woman from the youth parliament about anti-bullying and a TU rep from the National Museums of Liverpool about their industrial action over their 1.5% pay offer, all very well worth listening to!

We began with our extraordinary meeting where the Labour councillors called for an independent inquiry into the Mathew Street festival outdoor stage cancellation, as opposed to an internal one. Despite our efforts to persuade the ruling LibDem group that we could not expect council staff to investigate each other and particularly the big bosses, or that there would be accusations of a cover-up, or that important players in the process who do not work for the council would not be involved, or that the cost should never be a hindrance to the need for an inquiry, they voted for the cover-up option anyway.

We then had a debate about the right reaction to the murder of Rhys Jones. On paper the main difference between the two parties was whether we had a local "summit" or a national "summit" or both, to discuss the way forward. Unfortunately, Cllr Bradley completely misjudged the mood and the tone of the meeting and went into a rant that basically said that if we had not been at war with Iraq, or won the Olympic bid in 2012 then there would be more money for the police and there would be no crime of this sort in Liverpool. It was a real shame to hear our leader, even though he is on "their" side rather than mine, miss the chance to echo the solidarity that the football teams and supporters have managed, and the people of Liverpool have managed, by turning this into a political rant. I was very sorry to hear his contribution, it was deeply disappointing. There was lots of wriggling on the LibDem benches, I think some might have been ashamed of him. Bizarrely, one contribution, from Sir Trevor, diverted us a long way from the point by saying that the real problem was that Labour didnt love the Beatles enough.

This was followed by a debate calling for Cllr Bradley to resign over Mathew Street and his early promise to the public that he would save the outdoor stages, when he could not, and then that he sent an email to the Chief Exec asking him to suspend the head of the Culture Company even while he was telling the public that he would carry out an independent inquiry and would not prejudge the findings. If we had not been convinced before this moment, we were by his speech I have just mentioned. Cllr Anderson (Labour leader) spoken well, calmly and thoughtfully, about how Cllr Bradley was the captain of the ship and must take responsibility for the shortcomings of his administration.

Needless to say we lost the vote but interestingly at least a dozen LibDem councillors stayed seated as their colleagues stood to clap Cllr Bradley as the vote was declared. One has to assume that splits are deepening and that those LibDems with a social conscience are squirming in embarassment and upset at the performance of the leadership.

I don't want to go into lots of detail about very item of the meeting, you can read the minutes if you want to but I would like to close on one particular thing that rather upset me.

Cllr Twigger, a young man in his 20s only just elected to the council as a LibDem in Knotty Ash, had submitted a motion to council and had prepared his maiden speech. Unfortunately there was not time left at the end of the meeting for his speech but we took a vote anyway. The Lord Mayor called for a vote and the Labour Group voted yes to accept his motion. The Lord Mayor then asked the LibDems why they had forgotten to vote on the motion, come on he said, get your hands up you lot, and then he and we became aware that they were not going to support it. As I sat with my hand up I gestured several times to Cllr Bradley to put his hand up, but he shook his head and mouthed that it was a ward issue so they could not support it.

We dont have the same rules on our side of the chamber that they have on theirs, on our side all of our motions have to go through the Group executive board for approval (and 99% are approved) but on their side anyone can put a motion straight to the council. Obviously no-one had bothered to help or assist Cllr Twigger to learn what was okay and what was not by their standards. In the end our side voted for his motion and their side voted against it. What a terrible position to put this young man in. I felt dreadfully for him, I think they should have made an exception for him and not put him in this situation, even now I am still shaking my head when I think how hurtful they were and how unneccessary it was.

Anyway, I think I do like the new format but perhaps I need a few more meetings to decide?


Peter said...

Unfortunately, Cllr Bradley completely misjudged the mood and the tone of the meeting

I can well believe it. Blip does seem to suffer from the unfortunate delusion that petulance comes across as passion.

Scousepunx said...

Which Lib Dems stayed seated??? Sounds interesting.

Louise Baldock said...

From where I was sitting, those seated were Jan Clein, the young man who sits next to her, are they in the same ward? and Beatrice Frankel, they are all in the same row. Others sat too but it was all over so quick I could not see which ones. Basically the front row got up, the rows behind were more evenly spread between standers and sitters.
I did wonder whether to answer this post but as it was a public meeting and any member of the public or press could have been there and recorded what I saw, then I decided it was okay, and not breaking a privelige.

JB said...

And what was so good about young Cllr Twigger's maiden motion that his own party wouldn't support it?

Louise Baldock said...


Council notes the widespread dissatisfaction among residents living in the vicinity of Broadgreen and Alder Hey Hospitals and Broadgreen Railway Station in regards to parking problems.

Council notes that a large number of hospital patients, visitors and staff prefer not to use the expensive on-site car parks, instead parking in nearby residential roads. This causes many problems for local residents who suffer from the indiscriminate and often dangerous parking.

Council regrets that hospital trusts, facing increasing budget restraints and cuts by the Labour government, impose high car parking charges on patients and visitors, many of whom are some of our most vulnerable citizens.

Council requests that the Executive Member for Regeneration looks into providing a residents parking scheme in these areas in order to help alleviate this ever increasing problem.

This is Paul Twigger's motion that the LibDems voted against. It should have created some coverage -their refusal to back it, but it didnt.