Get involved: send your pictures, video, news & views by texting TIMES NEWS to 80360, or email us
In The Court of The Red Tsar
I see our local bloggers and the local press has already given their slant on last night’s council meeting. I have never seen any thing quite like it. The Conservatives plumbed new depths. It was not just that they voted their leader and cabinet members an obscene pay rise but their behavior through out was appalling.
I usually try to inject some humour in to the reporting of Council meetings but there was little joy to be had last night.
The meeting got off to a somber start with tributes to the late Rudi Vis. the former MP for Finchley and Golders Green. Together with the Labour Group leader I tried to convey some of the work and personality of Rudi and the warmth of affection we all held for him.
The Tories then voted against a Liberal Democrat Motion to introduce an Alcohol Free Zone for Golders Green Town Centre. I don’t know why, because they refused to debate the motion and went straight to the vote.
We moved through a number of debates and motions. Council agreed to name a road in memory of the late Rudi Vis. The Tories voted down a motion to tackle the increased number of Road Accidents in the Borough ( for the second time in three years Barnet had the highest accident rates of all the London Boroughs bar Westminster.) The Cabinet Member responsible for road safety (The one who alleged residents in Partingdale had staged managed their own accidents)) dismissed concerns out of hand.
By this time tension was mounting. The public gallery was unusually full. But before we turned to Members Allowances we still had to debate Child Poverty. A Conservative Councilor covered himself in glory by suggesting it was all the fault of social housing, it appeared he was saying we should get rid of council housing altogether. He was cheered to the rafters by his colleague (or maybe he said this in a previous debate it was all merging in to one by this time) There was a shabby little interlude when Tory Councilors egged on it seemed by a Cabinet Member ( Roads Roads Roads) and ably supported it appeared by the Leader and others about to award themselves huge pay increases and tolerated by the Mayor, shouted down, jeered and mocked a Labour Woman Councilor who was trying her best to make a valid point during a debate.
The Leader then rose up to justify the proposal to increase her allowances and that of her Deputy Leader and senior Tories. We are running a multi million pound business she intoned; we have to pay ourselves the going rate and so on and so on. My colleague Cllr Susette palmer rounded on the Tories in a Tour de Force. To thunderous applause from the public gallery Cllr Palmer demolished the Conservatives accusing them of deceit, sheer greed and duping the voters.
This was too much for the Tories. A Cabinet Member (a Former mayor) stood up to move that the debate be guillotined which the Tories duly supported. The Liberal Democrats and Labour voted against. All the Tories bar one supported the increases.
But there was a sting in the tail. The Tory Group Secretary (Chairman of General Functions Committee and sixty per cent allowance increase beneficiary) passed sentence on the unfortunate Tory Councillor who had defied the party whip. She was to be banished, removed from all committees publicly chastised. The Court of the Red Tsar is alive and well in Barnet.
What struck me through out the evening was the number of times Tory Councilors, Cabinet Members and most of all the Leader raged on about austerity, how everyone had to tighten their belts, everyone would have to share the pain, and how it is the feckless and greedy in our society that are to blame. I do not know what the Trade Union Officers in the public gallery made of it all. For my part I turn to as ever to the wisdom of Khali Gibran “The Prophet” .
“ What of the old serpent who cannot shed his skin, and calls all others naked and shameless?
And of him who comes early to the wedding-feast, and when over-fed and tired goes his way saying that all feasts are violation and all feasters law-breakers?
What shall I say of these save that they too stand in the sunlight, but with their backs to the sun?
They see only their shadows, and their shadows are their laws. “