It sounds as though Monday night’s council meeting was a comedy show not to have been missed.In common with normal practice – although they would doubtless prefer not to have to do it – the meeting invites questions from the public.
The rules surrounding this are quite strict, and require anyone wishing to ask a question to submit it in writing or e-mail to the chief executive no later than 5pm two clear working days before a meeting.
Answers to questions are made available to the questioner four working hours before the start of the meeting.
Questioners are then able to pose a supplementary question after they receive the answer, which allows them to develop their theme still further.
Arise the noble Lady Adey – Chief Executive of the South Lincolnshire Community and Voluntary Service – which is of course having £20,000 of the largesse doled out to it by Boston Borough Council cut, and instead paid to the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, where the council feels it will be better spent in the current economic climate.
The question was tendered.
Arise the soon-to-be ignoble leader of Boston Borough Council, Pete Bedford, to deliver the answer.
If Ms Adey seemed perplexed for a moment, it was because the answer to the question read out by the leader was not the same as the one that she had received.
Apparently, the leader trotted out the standard defence, which is to say that the e-mail in question had somehow escaped his gaze.
Sadly, it seems as though it appeared above his signature – which suggests that someone delegated to answer on his behalf had done their duty wisely but not well, and sent one answer to the questioner and another to the leader.
The leader was visibly seen to blush at this point – something which after a lifetime in politics we would not have thought possible.
In a way, this confirms what we have often suspected – that Councillor Bedford is such a busy man that he lacks the time required to deal with the minutiae of business which requires an individual touch.
Certainly, when we have received e-mails from him, or read his statements to the public, they demonstrate an eloquence far removed from the occasions when we have heard the man speak in person.
Apparently, Councillor Bedford had one more clanger to drop.
In the tone that adults often use to indicate that they are communicating with slightly difficult children, he told Ms Adey that whilst Boston was reducing its funding to the SLCVS – neighbouring South Holland District Council gave the organisation nothing at all.
Wrong, replied Ms Adey – the authority makes a grant of £28,000.
Cue more red faces.
Monday was clearly not Boston Borough Council’s best night out for some while.
Opening prayers passed without mention of the death of Staniland South Councillor Paul Mould – but the omission was redeemed when the Mayor Colin Brotherton called for a minute’s silence as a mark of respect.
But as he went to move on to the business of the night, he was chided by Labour group leader Councillor Paul Kenny, who reminded him that it was customary for members who wished to do so to pay a brief tribute to a departed member – and tributes duly followed.
It seems like the Mayor was inadequately briefed, as well as the leader.
All went smoothly after that – but eyebrows were raised at the appearance of the borough’s youngest councillor, Aaron Spencer, who turned up casually dressed – tieless and in a bomber-type jacket, when the protocol calls for a shirt and tie.
He’s never going to qualify for Young Mayor dressed like that.
It would disrespect the chain of office!
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