I don’t often write about council meetings as they tend to be of little interest to many people. Last night’s was fairly straightforward though. The Labour group had a total paddy and threw their toys out of the pram. They took exception to the way the new Mayor, Barbara Yerolemou, wanted to run the meeting. Apart from her ceremonial duties the main job of the Mayor is to act as chairman at council meetings. As such the Mayor has pretty much absolute power to decide what is talked about and when but obviously the party whips discuss the business with the Mayor and they work it out together. It all seems to have broken down last night.
If you look at the agenda for last night you will see that there was the main debate chosen by the Labour opposition on the Â£50 rebate we are giving residents in December followed by two Labour motions, one on flats recycling and one on the consultation around the Acton regeneration project. We discussed the first two and then the Labour group marched off at 9pm before we could discuss their third piece of business.
Today they issued a press release saying:
Biased Tory Mayor Must Go
Labour has demanded that Ealingâ€™s Conservative Mayor Cllr Barbara Yerolemou should be sacked after a furious row erupted at last nightâ€™s Council meeting provoking a dramatic protest by Labour councillors. A motion calling for her to be sacked will be discussed at the next Council meeting.
â€œCllr Yerolemou has a deserved reputation as a strident class warrior and she has certainly lived up to it. She was a very bad choice as Mayor and should go. At her first meeting she allowed her Conservative colleagues to filibuster all night and deny councillors the opportunity to debate any opposition motions, this time she attempted to gag opposition members and stop debate on opposition motions so that the Conservatives could debate their own motion slapping themselves on the back. Her behaviour was extremely partisanâ€, said Ealingâ€™s Labour Leader Cllr Julian Bell.
I missed the last council meeting because I had a work commitment so can’t comment on the filibustering charge but last night’s little show was just silly. You can only imagine that the Labour group wrote their press release without actually checking what happened at the meeting. Council debates usually end at 9.30pm unless we agree to raise the “guillotine”. Last night we debated the Acton regeneration motion with the LibDems and then broke up at 9.30pm without discussing the Tory motion which Labour alleges that the Mayor was trying to make time for. To suggest that the system is treating you unfairly when the council spends most of the evening debating your chosen issues is plain silly.
Councillor Elizabeth Brookes is a bit of a walk out queen. This is the fourth time I have seen her storm out of meetings this year because she did not get her way. She twice stormed out of Gunnersbury Park regeneration board meeting this year complaining that she was needed to see a PowerPoint presentation in advance. She stormed out of the May Cabinet meeting in Acton where we talking about Acton regeneration and she led the walk out yesterday. In May the Cabinet specifically met in Acton to give Acton people the chance to hear what was said. Brookes, a South Acton councillor, obviously does not like real debate on her own patch. Last night she led a walk out at 9pm just as we were about to discuss Acton regeneration, or at least the consultation on it, again. Brookes really doesn’t like debate – mainly because she loses it seems.