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Thursday, 17 June 2010

Oakham Town Council co-options - 16th June 2010

Present: Cllrs Joyce Lucas; Charles Haworth; Alf Dewis; George Swiffin; Alan Walters; Martin Brookes and Chairman and Mayor – Sharon Spencer.

Candidates in order of interview: Linda Grey; Helen Pender; Tor Clarke and Fiona Arnold.

The following Councillors cast two votes each in favour of Mrs Linda Grey and Tor Clarke: Cllrs Alf Dewis; Charles Haworth; Joyce Lucas; George Swiffin; Alan Walters.

When told of the vote by the Chairman, Sharon Spencer, she also said that Martin Brookes and she did not vote since they each knew one of the candidates. This prompted me to ask if I was sleeping with (openly gay) Cllr Brookes, since Linda Grey had admitted to me two weeks earlier that she was a friend of both Alf Dewis and Joyce Lucas. In fact I hear from Martin’s blog that she also admitted this as she was introduced at her interview. However Joyce Lucas wisely shut her up.

Oakham is a town of 10,000 people, a very small community. It is unlikely that the five Councillors who voted did not know at least one of the candidates. What cloistered lives these five must lead.

By a happy coincidence the five Councillors, who did vote, roared in unison like unanimous lions in favour of Linda Grey and Tor Clarke.

Martin’s comment to me after the meeting was that I had not pulled my punches when telling the Council of its failings. This was the only opportunity I would get to be heard and it is important to make the most of opportunities when they arise. The Town Clerk said that everyone else was interviewed for a quarter of an hour. My interview lasted half an hour.

Cllr Dewis listened as I told the meeting that Plato believed that Tyranny and Anarchy replaced democracy when democracy fails. However I am not sure he is capable of understanding the depths to which he is bringing this Council by riding rough shod over Standing Orders.

The public were ejected when the five Parish Councillors voted. Martin Brookes had proposed, I am told by other members of the public, that the public be excluded for the discussion. Needless to say, since it was proposed by Cllr Martin Brookes, no one would second his proposal. A few seconds later Cllr Dewis suggested the public be excluded. No one seconded his proposal either, but it was put to the vote and carried. One shakes ones head in despair at this point. You can’t surely have a motion to exclude the public, which receives no support, and then revive exactly the same motion again, which again receives no seconder, and then put the motion to the vote.

Oh yes you can, but only on Oakham Parish Council where Standing Orders don’t apply. It seems my small opportunity to educate Cllr Dewis had fallen on deaf ears. Heigh Ho! Why can’t I learn that casting pearls before swine is always a vain exercise?

As we left the building Martin was locked out of the Council Chamber and office. It became clear that some Councillors were holding an informal discussion from which they wished to exclude Martin Brookes. Quelle suprise?

The outcome was predictable (see Martin Brookes’ blog posted before the meeting). Martin expressed great regret that he hadn’t placed a bet with William Hill as he left the Council Chamber. I couldn’t help thinking that if he had he might have been arrested and charged with fraud.

Lest we forget, at the last Council meeting Cllr Alf Dewis assured us that he, Cllr Lucas and Cllr Haworth would serve on the Police Joint Action Group, since membership of this group is in future to be ‘by invitation only.’

My congratulations go to Tor Clarke and Linda Grey along with my fervent hopes that they might bring some sanity to this Council. Chris Hilton, Martin Brookes and I raised our glasses in a toast to Oakham Town Council in the Hornblower afterwards. No doubt there will be a celebratory dinner for Lions and their spouses too in the very near future … so perhaps collective sanity on Oakham Town Council is a vain hope.

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