Wednesday, 1 July 2009

the feathers flew

here is an exchange (semi-public, well, totally public now it is on here) about the Reading council meeting on Tuesday last week. From what I can gather from those who were there, some kind of untrue allegation about the Tory councillor for Park ward not holding surgeries was made, and his group leader naturally enough responded and called for the record to be set straight and for an apology, after all a council meeting is a public forum:

Dear Jo,

At Full Council earlier this week, one of your Councillors made an accusation in public regarding one of my group, claiming that he did not hold Surgeries in his Ward.

Having checked with Member Services and having spoken to Wazir the assertion made by Cllr P Jones is clearly incorrect (see below). I copy my e-mail to the list of people who will have heard his remark at Full Council, so that Cllr P Jones has the opportunity to put right his untruth.

Tory Park Ward Surgeries - 2009

17 January

21 February

21 March

18 April

16 May

20 June

I am sure that you would agree that we all have a responsibility to ensure that politicians behaviour should not stoop to this low level and Cllr P Jones' behaviour fell well short of the standard that I know to be acceptable.

I would be grateful if you would now instruct Cllr P Jones to make a f
ull and sincere apology. I would also like assurance that his future behaviour will be markedly improved.

Zim One however, instead of responding to this, issued a tirade about another councillor altogether, who it is not suggested even by her has lied, although she says that the nth announcement that the Pakistani community is being bribed with a free plot of land for a mosque had nothing to do with the European elections. Noooo Josephine, of course, it didn't, nooo, now take your tablets like a good girl and have a nice long lie down.

Here is her response to the above, in full for those who are minded to fisk. I may do so myself, but not tonight as it's late and it is still over 20 degrees.

Dear Andrew,

It saddens me to have to respond to you in this public way as I do not believe that this sort of discussion is best conducted via the pages of the local press.

Since you have chosen this course of action, I have no alternative but to ask publicly that you take control of your group and ensure Cllr Chowdhary desists from making untrue allegations and personal attacks at council meetings in future. His assertion that the signing of the agreement for the Mosque at Green Road had been timed to coincide with the European elections is completely false. There had been months of meetings to iron out a number of matters to satisfy both sets of lawyers and indeed the charity commission requirements. I am more than happy to meet with you and relevant officers and go through the history in detail, but the reality was that this agreement took time for a number of reasons outside the Council’s control and the eventual date was in no way decided by any councillor and it was only signed when all the lawyers were satisfied that all outstanding matters had been satisfactorily concluded. I attended several meetings with officers and community representatives to better understand and try to work through the obstacles to the signing. The Community representatives who attended those meetings were very keen to get the agreement finally signed and pressed the Council to meet regularly to ensure that progress was made. I would therefore request that the remarks made by Cllr Chowdhary at the last Council meeting should be withdrawn.

I believe Jamie Chowdhary's allegations could well have crossed the line with regard to the Code of Conduct for Councillors, and I am still thinking about whether to take that further. As well as asking Cllr Chowdhary to withdraw his remarks, I hope you are not supportive of such tactics and that you will reflect on that and instruct Conservative members to refrain from smears of this kind in future.

As for Peter Jones, he accepts he got carried away, but was stopped from finishing what he was saying by the shouting from your group and the Mayor's intervention, which prevented him from making it clear that he was saying that he had never heard about a Conservative surgery as a local resident. In any event, as he accepted Cllr Hussein's assurance that he does conduct surgeries before the Council meeting finished, I believe that counts as a correction to any other impression that may have been given.

I would add that Peter was, as were the rest of my group, genuinely astonished at the rejection of a Labour proposal for all councillors to have CRB checks. He was angry at the reaction from the other groups, especially as we are clear that such checks would be carried out in the same confidential manner used for staff, school governors and volunteers. We believe that as public representatives who enter people's homes or spend time alone with residents at surgeries it would be good to give the reassurance and to set an example that councillors had undertaken CRB checks. I would expect all political Parties to have asked candidates if they had any "skeletons" which could cause their Party embarrassment before they were selected as candidates and therefore any CRB check would be unlikely to reveal anything of concern. We really cannot understand why both your group and the Liberal Democrats were so against this. Many of the residents we are quite likely to visit at home are the vulnerable elderly and it was reassurance to them we particularly had in mind. I hope we might revisit this proposal at some stage soon and that both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats will rethink their knee-jerk opposition to this.

You may also not know that Peter's wife had recently came out of hospital after 6 weeks and he had hoped to be back home with her before 11.00 p.m. at night. He was exasperated that what he and we thought would be a simple amendment had taken such an unpredictable turn and was going to mean an even later return home than was necessary.

I trust you will reflect on all these matters and I look forward to an assurance that your group will not be calling other councillors’ integrity into account in this way again.

Yours sincerely,

Jo Lovelock

So she accepts that Jones made a twat of himself (not for the first time) but requests Cumpsty to refrain not only from pointing this out but from pointing it out when Labour Group members tell straight lies to the public. There's democratic for you. Zim One is the right name. In the name of God, go.

Oh and if Peter Jones wants to spend more time with his family he could always, you know, resign.


Anonymous said...

oh grow up the lot of you. Really. Get a life

Anonymous said...

None of which mentions that nice man Tony Page comparing Jamie Chowdhury with the leadership of Hizb-ut-Tahrir in the self same meeting. I wonder why....?

Oranjepan said...

Who said what about whom is a false debate. It is petty bickering and it is detracting from the real issues which concern residents.

Is it any wonder that people get dillusioned at politics and angry at politicians when the main two parties expend so much energy and public time in this way?

Do not feed the trolls, they'll only point you in the wrong direction.

Anonymous said...

Why stop there, Orangepan? I suspect that the Lib Dems could give the other two a run for their money when tempted, and our esteemed "independent" Councillor seems to be able to dish it out if required. Reading's Councillors are the living proof of why I would never want to be elected to a public position in the Borough. It's like looking after toddlers: I can no longer get down to their level.

Anonymous said...

Talking of that nice man Tony Page, will he be subject to a CRB check as well?? Am sure he will be first in the queue leading the example..I think Jo is spot on in this. Could not agree more!

Anonymous said...

Allegations of free land from Labour's Shredding Borough Council in exchange for block voting ?
Tell me it's not so !
My faith in democracy has been dashed.
Dashed I tell you!

Anonymous said...

who is the fat controller by the way?

Anonymous said...

That's the bloke from Thomas the Tank Engine of course. No one ever read to you as a kid?... can't understand how this got into discussion at the meeting I hear. Honestly, some people are wishing they are back in Nursery by the sound of it!

Peter said...

Looks like the end of the (Green) Road for the Green Road Mosque

To summarise my post (click link above), the planning permission expired in Oct 2009, and full planning permission would need to be applied for all over again.
A question remains over what happens to Reading Borough Council’s gift of £2 million of taxpayers land, now.
Will it sit in limbo?