If Boston Borough Council were an organism, current behaviour suggests that its outside would be scaly and rough to the touch, but flaky and slippery in other parts.
Inside it would be flatulent, dyspeptic, and riddled with a host of parasites – each trying to destroy the other.
Unpleasant as it sounds, these are the images conjured up by recent events.
The first followed last week’s Boston Eye exclusive on the way that incoming UKIP Mayor Brian Rush was roughed up by his fellow councillors over his unwillingness to be the sole volunteer among eight nominees to step down so that the seven required appointments to the Black Sluice Internal Drainage Board could be rubber stamped.
As a result of this Councillor Rush has now quit the party – but not without making his reasons unequivocally clear.
We didn’t notice until we revisited the nominations that Councillor Rush’s chances were further diminished by a decision to place him out of alphabetical order and last in the list of nominees – therefore right in the crosshairs for rejection when it came to a vote.
This is especially ironic given the Worst Street Tories' anger at being "disadvantaged" when the Boston sub-Standard listed Mike Gilbert’s Blue Revolution Party ahead of the Conservative Party using alphabetising to ensure even-handedness.
Councillor Rush – who was keen to be on the board because of previous membership – felt that the absence of support from UKIP colleagues had tested his loyalties to the point of resignation.
He told James Edwards, the latest leader of the Boston Kippers, that the first he knew of the Black Sluice membership problem was when Councillor Edwards contacted him at 1.37 p.m. on Monday 15th May.
“… the timing was both insensitive and discourteous …” said Councillor Rush …
“… the correct course of action … would have been to have discussed this decision on days preceding what was for me, a very important and highly charged event.
“However, I believe that the ball was already in your court, because no such proposal had been lodged, merely a request for a volunteer to stand down.
“It was then the time for any Ukipper to have presented an amendment, citing for example, Councillor Bedford to have been removed, on the basis he would soon cease to be a Conservative, and was therefore surplus to Black Sluice requirements.
“I, nor anyone else, should have to remind you, that your duty was to support the aspirations of your UKIP members, and not to side with the ruling group.
“Had you done so, any action taken would have been seen as entirely an understandable and democratic action.
“However and in light of the level of exclusion, UKIP members have been forced to suffer over the past two years excepting of course for one ‘specific’ Ukipper.
Councillor Rush adds that he is formally asking that the council’s Monitoring Officer fully investigates the circumstances that led to his application being selected for rejection, as well as when, and why.
He is also seeking a clear legal opinion, regarding the balances employed which should demonstrate and ensure fairness, and inclusivity.
As we advised with the other recent issue involving the council and one of its members, Councillor Rush should expect short shrift and a rapid sweeping of his concerns beneath the civic carpet.
The second matter concerned a complaint about the language said to have been used by Worst Street’s newly-appointed chieftain Michael Cooper – the man whose main claim to fame so far has been to put the “eff” in Leader!.
The silver-tongued Councillor Cooper was said to have expressed his feelings over remarks on Facebook by council critic Darron Abbott about his non-dom status – he lives in East Lindsey whilst representing a Boston ward – by nobbling a friend of Mr Abbott’s at a drinks bash after the announcement of his and Councillor Rush’s appointment and telling him …
"The next time you see your f*****g mate Darron Abbott tell him that if he puts anything else on Facebook I will punch him in the f*****g face."
Unsurprisingly, this prompted a formal complaint from Mr Abbott – and no sooner had we written in last week’s blog that “Early word on the street is that efforts are being made to sweep the whole affair under the rug …” than a response was delivered.
And guess what ..?
The complaint was thrown out of the window.
Summarised, the five-page response decided …
- The alleged comment was made at least one hour after the closing of the Annual Full Council and Mayor Making Ceremony.
- The alleged comment was made in a public house in Boston town centre and not in the Municipal Buildings.
- The alleged comment was made in a social gathering of mixed company (by this I mean a mix of political views and not solely a Conservative meeting and a mix of both councillors and non-councillors).
- It is accepted that there was no intent to actually cause you physical harm.
Ironically the rejection letter adds: “I have referred throughout my correspondence to the alleged incident because whilst I can confirm a comment was made, I have not been able to ascertain the exact phraseology of that comment.”
Really? As far as we are aware a precise statement was taken from the person who was asked to pass the message on – and to accept that “there was no intent to actually cause you physical harm” clearly suggests that the offer was made but was merely an empty threat.
The rejection concludes almost gleefully: “As the Monitoring Officer, my decision is final in this matter. There is no right of appeal.
“If you are unhappy with my decision, you may seek independent legal advice in respect of a Judicial Review of my decision which constitutes a public law decision."
An interesting sidebar to all this is the way in which it gives councillors an easy ride.
The current code of conduct – which emerged between 2010 and 2015 – in the words of the government replaced “the bureaucratic and controversial Standards Board, which ministers believed had become a vehicle for petty, partisan and sometimes malicious, allegations of councillor misconduct that sapped public confidence in local democracy.”
Whilst some of this may have been true, we cannot help but think the changes have also given generous scope for complaints with merit to be side-lined or rejected which continue to sap public confidence.
The code also removed all sanctions, such as disqualification and suspension.
A second letter from Worst Street’s Monitoring Officer after Darron Abbott sent a round robin e-mail to all councillors asking for their views also clarified the ambiguity concerning what was said at the time.
“My letter of 19th May confirmed that a comment was made, but that I was not able to ascertain the exact phraseology of that comment and that as the Code was not engaged and therefore no requirement to conduct a formal investigation, the exact nature of the comment was not relevant to my final conclusions.
“For further clarity, the content of the statement made by Mr Cooper is irrelevant for my purposes, as at the time of the incident he was Mr Cooper not Councillor Cooper and does not change my conclusions.”
So … why bother to undertake “preliminary interviews” with Councillor Cooper and the man he asked to act as a messenger boy “to ascertain the facts of the alleged incident in order to consider if a formal investigation should be instigated” when you know in advance that an investigation is unnecessary?
Rather worryingly, the letter added: “I can confirm that there are many examples around the country of elected officials who have been convicted of criminal offences but because they were not acting as a councillor on official business at the time, have not triggered the Code of Conduct.
“Where cases are acts of criminality, these are matters for the Police not the Code of Conduct.”
So – to avoid what they considered timewasters, the government has nationally created a climate where Jekyll and Hyde councillors can break the law with impunity knowing that even if they are sacked from their day jobs as a result, the allowances will still come rolling in.
Back to the wronging of Councillor Rush, and Labour Group leader Paul Gleeful – sorry Gleeson – was quick to enter the debate with the following Tweet.
“Rumours of a new political party in Boston called UQUIT - For all those councillors that have left UKIP”
This was a classic example of the saying “people who live in glass houses should not throw stones …” highlighting as it does the smugness of a two-man group that sold political principle in favour of committee status.
To the general election now … and don’t bother to yawn, because nothing much has been going on…
Today’s view of candidates is largely determined by Twitter – which increasingly is used to let people know what is going on in their constituency.
In Boskeg, we have found nothing to write home about from the Lib Dems, the Greens, or the Blue Revolution – and what is being posted by the others is little to write home about.
Conservative Matt Warman seems to like a pub crawl as the way to get the message across …
… although we did see him bravely tying his colours to the lampost in the town centre last week
Meanwhile, Labour’s Paul Kenny has been doing the rounds with a “fox” in tow. It’s the one in the costume we feel sorry for – and that’s not a quiz! Kenny is the glum one!
And among UKIP leader Paul Nuttall’s problems are that as leader, he has to travel the country in support of other candidates, and then when he does pitch up in Boskeg no-one seems to know who he is.
It’s all very unexciting – especially when former Tory treasurer and furious poll taker Lord Ashcroft has declared the chances of a shoo-in for Mr Warman to be 100%
Perhaps that’s why – with just four days to go – Warman supporters have decided to keep their hands in their pockets as far chipping into his fighting skirmish is concerned – you certainly can’t call it a fighting fund.
Yesterday afternoon is stood at £810 raised from a £5,000 target – and with just nine supporters …one of whom donated twice.
Not an idea worth cantering out again, wethinks.
The delusions of grandeur shown by Worst Street’s Boston Town Area Committee – BTAC-ky for short – seem to be never ending.
Not only is the committee now meeting monthly but it has recently been showing off its new logo – which is to be officially unveiled at tomorrow’s meeting.
Quite why a minor committee – albeit one that is ripping off the taxpayers left, right and centre and throwing their money here, there and everywhere – should need its own badge is anyone’s guess.
But we are sure that it makes the members feel important, and that’s all that really matters.
Nor was the committee stingy with the cost.
Whilst it was promoted as a competition, and the winner was a school pupil, the cost worked out thus … a £150 prize for the winner, £100 for the school art department and £5 each for the other 40 entrants - £450 in all.
Still, it’s not BTAC-ky’s money is it?
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