A strange metamorphosis seems to occur when some people acquire the designation of councillor before their name, and adopt a mantle of superiority, and lack of consideration for their fellow beings.
There ought to be a collective noun for this. After all, we have such gatherings as a convocation of eagles, an unkindness of ravens, and a shrewdness of apes – so how about a rudeness of councillors?
Two fine examples have emerged in recent days.
The first came in an email exchange between former councillor Carol Taylor and the chairman of the self-appointed Prosperous Boston task and finish project Councillor Judith Skinner, and seen by Boston Eye.
The committee meets in secret, and is not formally minuted – but a rare chance of a glimpse into its boiler room was offered by a report from Councillor Skinner to a recent meeting of BTACky … the so-called “parish” council for town wards.
Sadly, the report was verbal – and thus unavailable to the voters unless they attended the meeting.
Mrs Taylor asked why the meetings were not open to the public, and, as the verbal report was presumably being read from a written one, whether it could be made available to read.
The reply was only little short of saying “stick your head up a bear’s bum.” “Thank you for your interest in the Task and Finish Group on Prosperous Boston.
“The Group will be making available a full report of its findings and recommendations in due course.
“If you would like to put forward any points please feel free to email me.”
Mrs Taylor replied: “Unfortunately you have not answered my question. Why was this task and finish group not open to the public?
Cue the “I’m a councillor” syndrome.
“I thought as a former councillor you would remember that task and finish group meetings are not made open to the public (sic) and are A political (sic). As I stated the results and recommendations will be made public.
“We did hold a public consultation in the market place (sic) in December which was well advertised in the press.”
We remember it well – a four-hour session on a rainy Saturday two weeks before Christmas.
And as far as we are aware there is no rule excluding the public from task and finish group meetings.
The only such meetings in recent years were in 2012. One was about the Social Impact of Population Change in Boston, and the other an investigation into the activities of the former Boston Business ‘Improvement’ District.
In both cases, not only were local people permitted to attend, they were actively encouraged to participate.
Our second example of needless bad manners appeared in the minutes of the full council meeting in January.
UKIP Councillor Yvonne Stevens asked why the council did not put in place a competitive bidding process for the biomass boilers at the Moulder Leisure Centre and the PRSA – the cost of which a year ago surged by 64%, from £456,000 to £749,000, incidentally after the “experts” asked to quote “reviewed” the initial figure!.
Such actions could, Councillor Stevens claimed that competitive bidding might have saved Boston’s council tax payers £249,000.
Enter Councillor Claire Rylott, portfolio holder for nine various roles best summarised as serving the quick and the dead who use the council’s sports services and cemeteries.
She said that the overriding consideration for the contract was to allow completion of the works to avoid a maximum potential reduction in renewable heating incentive which had fallen dramatically over the previous 18 months. An open tender was “simply not achievable.”
We’ve seen this before or course, when Worst Street pulled a similar stunt, rushing to buy solar panels to beat any reduction in subsidy.
Councillor Rylott went on: “Your comment regarding potential savings is entirely misleading and without proper foundation. I fail to see how any contractor can submit a valid and properly considered cost without sight of the specification and having a full understanding of what is being requested!”
And the rant concluded: “I hope now that Councillor Stevens is better informed she will apologise for providing misleading and unsubstantiated figures to elected members.”
Quite rightly, Councillor Stevens said that she had nothing to apologise for; the information was a ‘ball park’ figure, and not a quote.
She went on to ask if the council was going to pay for the biomass boiler fuel that will be needed and, if so how much it would cost each year. Unbelievably, Councillor Rylott dismissed this as having “no relevance” to the original question, and again demanded an apology for “misleading” the council”
This was a silly and petty response, which left us feeling that somehow we may have wound up paying more than we needed to.
The second question seemed entirely relevant, and to suggest otherwise made us wonder if reluctance to answer was hiding something that Worst Street doesn’t want us to know.
The satisfying thing was that revenge became a dish served cold when Councillor Stevens asked the same question at the full council meeting this week.
Answer: Boston Borough Council is paying.
How much? We don’t know – we’re going through the procurement process at the moment.
This has a terribly deadly ring to it.
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