Today of all days residents in Reading will be hoping that their local representatives will be thinking and acting responsibly. We will need to make some very hard decisions as the central Conservative and Lib-dem government have chosen to impose savage cuts on our budget – and to do it in a very short timescale. I don’t blame our local Conservative/Liberal Democrats for this, although a cursory look at Daisy Benson’s Twitter account seems to suggest that she doesn’t have any criticisms of the csr review.
However I do expect that they behave like grown up politicians. Last night’s council meeting didnt’t reassure me. Richard McKensie who presented the petition on Maiden Erliegh (which I support fully) has already complained about the behaviour of some councillors* and I also noticed members being rude about – and to – residents who presented a petition on free swimming for over 60s. They were even accused of being put up to it by Labour!
I am a new councillor, so perhaps am not immured to this kind of thing, but I would like to apologies on behalf of councillors for the behaviour of those colleagues.
After most members of the public had left I put forward my motion on feed in tariffs. I took the opportunity to ask members to put asside petty point scoring and actually look at what is good for people of the town.
Cllr Swaine did what had happened to every opposition motion and put forward an amendment that started “Delete all the words after ‘this council'”: in other words he substituted his own motion (and in his speech declared himself to be the greenest councillor in Reading to my amusement and Rob White’s – understandable – surprise!) This was despite fact that I deliberately made my motion, and my speech, general enough to be flexible and non-party political.
Having said that I knew they had the votes to pass whatever they wanted and much of his revised motion was fine – in fact some of it was just giving more detail about what I called ‘all options’ and ‘the borough’s buildings. It did remove the a specific suggestion that I had, which was to focus on the borough’s schools. I spoke to him after the meeting and he said ‘we can’t tell schools what to do’. There are ways around his concerns, and I will push to ensure that they are fully considered. I reluctantly accepted the revised motion, and am glad that one thing that all sides of the chamber seem to agree on is that they all want to make Reading a leader on the environment.
I will blog seperately, and breifly on the spending review.
*I have a confession to make, I did – briefly – use my mobile phone during the council meeting as well, although I wasn’t spotted by the gallery, but this was because needing to know how my young daughter was doing so I sent 2 text messages to my husband during the evening. I am sure all parents who have had a sad small child will understand that and that they won’t equate it to twittering during a crucial meeting or a lack of respect for the important of the meeting.