|Councillor Brian Rush|
Fears for Boston are back after
Last week’s Boston Borough Council Scrutiny Committee debate rejected a call to take another look at the £200,000 Cabinet decision to make the Geoff Moulder training pool available to the Witham Schools Federation and the Boston Amateur Swimming Club.
The vote was not surprising, as the Conservatives not only have a majority on the council but also on the committee, and it would have been like turkeys voting for Christmas had the vote gone any other way.
We had heard that the meeting was not exactly amicable or well organised, but it seems that things were worse then we feared.
Independent Councillor Brian Rush sat in on the meeting and was so appalled by what went on that he has written to Boston Eye about it.
Here’s what he had to say - in what he has asked us to make clear is a “personal view of the meeting from the sidelines”:
“What is going on within the ruling group at Boston Borough Council?
“After what I have seen, I am in fear again for the future of our town and borough.
“I have no reservations whatsoever about the integrity of either the Witham Schools Federation nor Boston Amateur Swimming Club, and their aspirations to reopen the training pool, in fact this should have been supported the last time it was offered.
“What is very worrying is the reaction by members of the new administration to the first Call-In of their Cabinet’s decision to facilitate the re-opening of the training pool.
“Their behaviour was a disgrace.
Councillor Peter Bedford, as Leader of this council, needs to re-assess the whole structure of his selections in both Cabinet and committees, or at least remind his members that democracy is not the gift of the largest political group.
“Of course what is now happening will be less surprising if we first remind ourselves of the rumours that were flying about pre election - one of which was, that if elected, Councillor Raymond Singleton-Maguire was sure to become the next Leader!
“That, as they say was a given, supposedly until some powerful personalities, unimpressed by this selection, apparently had a word!
“Then we heard that Councillor Peter Bedford was persuaded to take the reins, declaring, it would only be for two years!
“A little later this generous offer was followed by yet another change of heart. It would, after all, be for four years!
“I don’t for sure know if this debacle was true, but this kind of a beginning was hardly likely to inspire confidence, in an already disillusioned electorate.
“It is very worrying, but this seems to be a continuing disorganisation that does not bode well - as the following little farce will indicate.
“Is it not a reasonable expectation that in the absence of a regular chairman of any committee that the vice chair adopts the role?
“I think most would expect so and agree. Unfortunately this appears not to be the case within our Scrutiny Committees at the Call-In of the Training Pool.
“I need to first to defend a very young and inexperienced Conservative, Councillor Aaron Spencer.
“This young man had obviously been put forward, after election, by his group, to serve as Vice Chair of the Performance Review Committee.
“I have since gotten to know him, and genuinely admire him.
“I was even more impressed by his bravery and honesty, in declaring that he did not feel able to fulfil the Chairman’s role on this particular occasion.
“So we have to regard as questionable, the lack of foresight shown by his leaders - those who failed to recognise, or chose to ignore, his youthful limitations.
“I make no apologies for having drawn attention to the fact that it was improper of them to have failed to address the protocols of committee by selecting a Vice Chair, who by his own honest admission, did not feel capable of taking the Chair.
“Clearly his initial appointment was in the leadership’s pursuit of maintaining their political status quo!
“Unfortunately, the selected substitute, Councillor Gurdip Samra (pictured right) having accepted the position of Chair, could not do so without making an uncalled for arrogant and possibly disrespectful comment, in response to what I had considered was a reasonable and proper observation regarding committee structures.
“It was about to get worse!
“My understanding over the last four plus years in council is that ‘Pink means Private’ and indeed the back half of the Call-In papers were indeed pink, thereby discouraging the interested public from attending.
“Councillor Alison Austin, in her presentation, made reference to an item, within this Pink back half, and no one took a blind bit of notice that our local press reporter was scribbling away in the corner.
“Funny though, when attention was finally drawn to her presence, our Strategic Director decided the papers were not too pink and we could carry on with care.
“What the heck does this mean, carry on with care, it’s either pink or it’s not pink!
It was later the opinion of a Call-In member that the so-called ‘Partnership Agreement’ was not enforceable and therefore was not a legal agreement.
“I was unconvinced by the officer’s response. But the items 9.1 and 9.2 in the Pink appear to be contradictory.
“The final scene in this political pantomime was left to the Portfolio Holder for Leisure Services, Parks and Open Spaces, Councillor Yvonne Gunter (pictured right) ...
When asked a reasonable question by Councillor Carol Taylor, the response was that she did not know the answer, how could she?
“When she was reminded, by myself, that as Portfolio Holder, she should know the answer, she responded angrily by saying, Oh! stop gabbling on, I am not answering!
“Just when I thought it might now be safe to look forward with a little optimism that old familiar foreboding comes creeping back!
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