Bet you're thinking "why has Winsfords only elected Tory (at the moment) written that headline"? Fair point, I could have written "Labour really don't like letting us speak" or "the Labour Chairman runs the council like a feifdom" but you've possibly heard all of that in my previous blogs.
The real reason for writing that headline will become all to apparent as you read - providing you feel inclined to do so given the obvious lack of respect I will give any reader of this blog (that one only applies to self indignant socialists mostly).
Lets start then, I'm sitting here enjoying a beverage not held in a plastic container and certainly not being drunk through a plastic straw as in the last Council meeting of 2017 it was my pleasure to second a motion for the Council to encourage business and in the borough to stop using plastic drinking straws. Admittedly, this stemmed from a petition in Chester supported by Chester Conservatives but it was a motion without political motivation, designed to highlight a growing and massive problem that has a global reach and will affect our future generations in unimaginable ways.
So, the motion was raised after the founder of the petition (Dr Christian Dunn) had spoken earlier in the public speaker part of the agenda (and he didn't even get interrupted by the Chairman!!) and had indicated that any political party could support this or other campaigns along this theme (by the way he spoke really well).
And then it came - the politically motivated, designed to make a grandstand against the government, lets stop the CWaC Tories getting any airtime and wholly unnecessary amendment by CWaC Labour. Brought forward by our very own "frackers charter author" Cllr Matt Bryan. You know the one....often in the Chester papers about a year or two back.....
However, anyone is allowed to make an amendment, except this one was really only brought to give Cllr Bryan and no doubt his political masters a platform to drone on about issues which has literally nothing to do with straws or plastic or recycling. In fact, after a challenge (as the "fair and respectful" Chairman was clearly enjoying his performance) by Cllr Anderson via a point of order the Cllr for Fracking (sorry, Upton - where he is considerably outperformed by the Tory Cllr Houlbrook) continued his tirade of unrelated topics. The Chairman steps in again, this time on his own rare initiative and finally switches the Corbyn stuck record to the "off" position.
So no politically motivated and disrespectful treatment by CWaC Labour there then eh? Amendment won, Tories lose but at least we have the straws issue firmly in the picture and hopefully the Labour Council will actually do something other than draft "another" strongly worded letter to the Government (it feels like half our Council Tax increase last year was so the CWaC Labour could afford more stationary to send a lot of those letters......).
Well from there it could only get more entertaining couldn't it? After Cllr Anderson raised another point of order - asking the monitoring to offer advice to Cllrs over bringing motions to Council which would be beneficial to Unions and therefore beneficial to Cllrs who received support off Unions - the totally respectful and overly fair and completely apolitical Chairman (who coincidentally states "I intend to vote" and then votes for every Labour item) actually said "...stick to your day job" to Cllr Anderson.
And later came my own Notice of Motion - not surprisingly described as "horrible" by Cllrs Shouty & Co. from the red side of the chamber but hey, I'm not gonna lose any hair over that any day soon - which highlighted the lack of accountability of the Council, its Leader and its meetings.
I must admit, I was a little surprised when the reds agreed to debate it, no doubt in indignation that anyone could or indeed would question or oppose all the brilliant things they have done (ahem!) such as removing free after three in Chester, introducing car parking charges elsewhere, their success in Barons Quay in Northwich, the G+T fiasco, their action on Winnington Bridge, the Ampitheatre in Chester and their supreme desire to answer all the questions and supplemental questions asked of them at Council etc. etc.
I started by saying that I thought it odd that during the last few Council meetings a lowly Ward member (me) had spoken more times than the Leader of the Council, that the Leader actually spoke a lot in Cabinet meetings but usually to introduce other speakers and that there were on-line "debates" where the Cabinet members out numbered the audience.
An offer to withdraw the motion was made if the Leader would action some items, such as the set-up and offer dates meetings off cross-party working groups and to get a report back from the group working on the Council Agenda protocol by the end of January. No such agreement came and the motion was seconded.
The brunt of the argument from Cllrs Shouty & Co. was that:-
during the previous administration the constitution was set up in the maner it now finds itself: Agreed
that the group meeting to discuss the council Agenda order had already met: Agreed
that the critiscism was unfair because the administration was already completely open and fair: er...ummm..er...
that the motion was only brought forward by a "tiny but noisy minority": Agreed - there were two of us raising the motion but of course the Tory group has many times highlighted the lack of time given to answering questions by the Administration.
that there was indeed plenty of times to ask questions during Cabinet meetings and Scrutiny meetings and that I should attend those meetings to ask those questions rather than making the point at full council: Oh boy... I was embarrassed to have to actually point out to the good and yet lamentable Cllr who raised this point that I actually sit on Scrutiny and ask lots of questions. Now who was the one not paying attention??
The crux of the matter is as follows, CWaC Labour do not like opposition, do not like being criticised for the Nirvana that they believe that have reached while in power and don't like anyone pointing it out that they are consistently not achieving their own goals, not showing much innovation and take little action while not actually putting themselves in a position to be accountable. Their answer is simple - it's everyone else's fault and we will treat everyone else like we think we have been treated because we can.
I think of them as the villain at the end of the much loved cartoon series starring a friendly dog.....
"We've been caught with no ideas (except raising taxes), the borough falling apart around us and treating everyone with absolutely no respect...........and we would have got away with it if it wasn't for you pesky Tories"
Enjoy your holidays with your families and friends - if you get a minute watch the Council Webcast
P.S. I'm taking bets on how much Council Tax goes up next year in Winsford, looks like an accumulator bet with a Labour CWaC, Labour Town Council and Labour PCC all in the running.