Anyone wanting to see how CBC fails to get to grips with running the borough for residents should grab a front row seat for the kangaroo court that is the Governance Committee Meeting [pdf] taking place at the Town Hall on Tuesday evening.
Standing on a trumped up charge is Tory Cllr Locker.
His ‘crime’ is one of sending out a slightly ill-advised tweet about receiving a parking ticket.
Cllr Locker has already publicly apologised for his minor, minor error.
A complaint however has been made by LibDem Cllr Dominic Graham.
The formal agenda point for the meeting on Tuesday states:
“To determine what action should be taken in relation to this complaint.”
How about not wasting valuable Committee time by accepting that a public apology has already been made, and then move on to more pressing matters?
How is that Cultural Quarter going, Comrades?
“On 12 September 2015 a complaint was received from Councillor Graham regarding a tweet that had been posted earlier that day by Councillor Locker on his Twitter account.”
The same day?
Cllr Graham isn’t stalking Cllr Locker online, is he?
Cllr Graham is the LibDem member for Mile End, as well as being new to the job in his role as Cabinet member for Street and Waste Services.
Conservative Cllr Locker was also elected to serve Mile End back in May of this year.
As the political strategists [ha!] start to make plans ahead of the ‘all out’ Council elections in May 2016, it seems that Cllr Graham has already launched the starting gun for his Mile End campaign.
Sure, Cllr Graham will plead all innocent in saying that he is only carrying out the responsibilities that his lofty Cabinet role allows.
So this all means that Cllr’s Locker’s little social media faux pas won’t be appearing in any of those LibDem smear leaflets dropping through the Mile End letterboxes in six months time?
The basis of Councillor Graham’s complaint was that by the tweet Councillor Locker:
“(1) had set an example that publicly abusing council staff was ok; and
(2) that he was effectively encouraging residents to abuse the civil enforcement officers.”
Where did Cllr Locker go mobilising his residents to hunt down and abuse Council staff?
It was clear that this was a minor, minor online error, sent out in the heat of the moment when Cllr Locker thought that he had been hard done by.
This matter should now be closed.
The Governance Committee Meeting report helpfully explains:
“On 14 September 2015 the Monitoring Officer wrote to Councillor Locker and attempted to resolve the issue informally by requesting that Councillor Locker issue a public apology and confirm that his tweet was not directed at council officers.
Councillor Locker confirmed that his tweet was aimed at the North Essex Parking Partnership (“NEPP”) as an organisation rather than at officers. He agreed that he would tweet an apology and make it clear it was his intention to criticise NEPP as a corporate entity. He also agreed to delete the tweet (which he did).”
Can we all go home now please?
Not if there another CBC election taking place in Cllr Graham’s Mile End patch in six months time…
Mile End will be one of the key wards that the increasingly desperate local LibDem group will be looking to hang on to if they want to protect the Cabinet with no Mandate alongside the Comrades of the Colchester Labour party.
The report continues:
“Unfortunately the tweeted apology was not as expected and Councillor Graham remained unhappy with the wording.”
Which is quite a feat in itself, given the 140 character restriction of the medium.
What was Cllr Graham expecting? A carefully crafted 2,000+ words in which Cllr Locker self-flagellants and promises not to offend the slightly over-sensitive (and politically motivated) LibDem witch hunt?
“The Monitoring Officer invited Councillor Locker to provide a statement on the complaint.”
Still following all of this crap?
How much valuable CBC time has already been spent on this political pursuit?
Ultimately the Governance Committee will be asked to decide if Cllr Locker has breached the CBC Member’s Code of Conduct.
At the heart of this is the phrase:
“You must treat others with respect.”
Anyone who has had the misfortune to attend a knockabout CBC Full Council meeting would know that this is a lip service clause that at best is an aspiration; at worst it is a piss take clause that allows Full Council to become something of an amateurish political bun fight.
Plus was Cllr Locker on official CBC business when he sent out his tweet?
“The Code only applies in relation to a councillor’s conduct in their official capacity as a councillor. Councillor Locker has stated that his tweet was posted in a personal capacity.”
Much like Labour’s Cllr Rosalind Scott no doubt, who rather enjoys knocking the town’s Tory MP in a personal capacity, rather than making a political point.
[We tried to embed a tweet here where Cllr Scott slagged off Will Quince MP for having the talent to sing at Firstsite. The tweet has quietly been deleted, with no apology, either. Fancy that].
— Rosalind Scott (@JRosalindScott) October 3, 2015
The report then rambles further:
“The question here is did Councillor Locker’s original tweet give the impression, to a reasonable member of the public, that he was posting it in his capacity as a councillor?”
A better question to ask would have been if any residents would have (i) seen the tweet or (ii) given a flying fuck had Cllr Graham not attempted to make a political name for himself.
Should the Governance Committee decide that there is a case to answer for, it seems that this will come at a cost to the CBC Council Tax payer:
“It is the Monitoring Officers opinion that the facts of this complaint are very clear and established and that a formal investigation would not be cost effective or uncover any further evidence. However this is for the Committee to decide.”
We could think of a suitable tweet to spunk out, should the Committee decide to pursue the matter. It would certainly fit into a 140 character limit.
Some rather draconian measures are available to the Committee, should they want to help Cllr Graham as part of his political witch hunt.
These include recommending that Cllr Locker is removed from all Committees, withdrawing Cllr Locker’s online access via CBC tools [ffs] or even recommending that Cllr Locker be excluded from CBC property, apart from meetings.
‘cos that’s going to really help the Mile End residents that Cllr Locker was democratically elected to serve.
Guess who will then be politically active on the ground trying to make the most of the situation?
Plus there is the DELICIOUS irony that one of the CBC Committees that Cllr Locker currently sits on is… the Governance Committee.
Seeing as though Cllr Graham has made a ham-fisted attempt to politicise this matter, we’d thought that we would do the same.
The CBC kangaroo court that will decide the fate of Cllr Locker on Tuesday evening is a cross-party committee.
It is made up of 4 Conservatives (including Cllr Locker), 3 LibDems and 1 Labour representative. It looks like the Labour vote could be decisive.
Thankfully this task will fall to Labour’s Cllr Cyril Liddy of Wivenhoe Quay ward – a Member that has a solid, legal understanding gained from outside the nonsense of CBC.
Oh – and credit where credit is due: it is good to see Labour’s defeated General Election candidate Jordan Newell writing to CBC in support of his Tory chum.
It is also great to see ‘straight talking, honest politics’ helping Jordan to cut through the Nu Labour bullshit as the Colchester Labour party returns to its proud socialist roots once again.
Away from the detail of the specific complaint against Cllr Locker, this is just another example to demonstrate how CBC is still stuck in a dinosaur world when it comes to trusting the judgement of Cllr’s.
The Tech Task and Finish Group delivered a bodged report to Full Council a couple of years ago about the use of iPads by Members.
The Group felt that it was hung out to dry by Cabinet when the terms of reference were then shifted to consider social media at the last minute.
This was an afterthought, and just shows how poorly prepared CBC is when getting to grips with the modern interweb, and how residents now go about their online business.
A ridiculous Full Council meeting actually considered if it was poor form to tweet during a council meeting.
An even more bonkers formal policy was then drawn up, stating which meetings Cllr’s were allowed to behave like adults in, and which meetings would mean that their online tools are taken away from them.
CBC just doesn’t understand the medium. It is more concerned instead in carrying on with some crazed Medieval ceremony that is of little interest to residents in the 21st Century.
If any sense is to come out of the Governance Committee on Tuesday evening then it will be to agree what an absolute waste of time this whole process has been.
An error was made, an apology swiftly followed.
Sadly the Chronic can’t make it to the kangaroo court.
Anyone fancy live tweeting on our behalf…?