The October Cabinet meeting of Colchester Borough Council was once again dominated by one agenda item.
Clue: it wasn’t the SEXY 2017/18 Year End Review of Risk Management.
Cabinet of late has become one long Have Your Say session.
This is no bad thing. You can’t accuse CBC of not being open and transparent. Any resident – well, every resident apart from Town Hall SEX WATCHER Andy Hamilton – can eyeball the Cabinet and Tell It Like It Is.
Which all means that whenever a hefty local issue clogs up the pages of The Gazette, Have Your Say can lead to a lot of conversation.
We’ve seen it in the past with issues such as the closure Joyce Brooks House and the displacement of the street traders.
The 2018 cause célèbre for Colchester is the ‘transition’ of the Cultural Quarter into student flats.
Tory Leader Darius Laws was first up to Have His Say. He was rather bullish in his criticism of residents removing Roman artefacts from the rubble of the old Waiting Room site.
We’re not sure if the solution is to concrete it all over for another fifty years or so. But Darius does like good authoritarian rant.
Resident John Acker also had His Say.
The Cultural Quarter was put aside to discuss instead Conservative cuts to local government.
It was a bit of a departure from the usual observations of Mr Acker and his home patch of Mersa. We got the tip later in the evening that Mr Acker is *possibly* being lined up as a candidate for a particular political party.
Nice one, Comrades.
Eyes left – VERY LEFT – and we were back in The Cultural Quarter.
Resident Victoria Weaver fessed up to doing her own Sunny Colch Time Team thing. She did add in the disclaimer that the dig was carried out under the supervision of an archeologist.
It got a little uncomfortable with a game of pass the parcel taking place.
You remove one layer and see which Portfolio Holder is in the firing line for pushing through the plans.
Having shamed Labour’s Cllr Tim Young at Cabinet in September, Miss Weaver turned her attention to LibDem cabinet Member Cllr Nick Barlow.
The charge sheet was that Cllr Barlow hasn’t been speaking with residents.
This was a load of hairy old bollocks for Cllr Barlow who has been treading the mean streets of CO1 wearing his Cllr hat for the best part of a decade.
There’s a reason why he keeps on being elected by residents…
ALL RISE: It’s only Sir Bob of Sunny Colch.
The High Steward has been enjoying his ‘apolitical’ role of late; so much so that he appears to have forgotten which political party helped him to be elected as the town’s MP.
Sir Bob has got a bee in his yellow bonnet about Cabinet democracy. He believes that all 51 elected Cllr’s are equal.
It is surprising to see that a lifetime in local politics hasn’t led Sir Bob to see how some elected Cllr’s are more equal than others.
We then had the very ODD situation of the former LibDem MP quizzing the current LidDem Leader of the Council about democracy.
CBC Leader Cllr Mark Cory brushed off the back stabbing with ease.
If anyone ever doubted that the old LibDem guard should spend more time at the allotment and allow the THRUSTING young guns to give it a go, then this was it.
Universal Credit was the subject of the next Have Your Say speaker.
Portfolio Holder Cllr Tina Bourne has been half decent at both Cabinet and Full Council in clarifying the approach of CBC.
In short it is all about the planning.
She has received cross-party support within Cabinet for her robust defences. Given that the ‘alliance’ is about as strong an alcohol free half pint of shandy, the support is impressive.
Got a little bored. So here’s a pic of a DUDE pic.twitter.com/wPeADSdi6x
— Colchester Chronicle (@ColchChronic) October 10, 2018
Three minutes of fame then followed for Have Your Say speaker Jackie White. She pulled off the remarkable feat of filling a fifteen minute speech into three minutes.
I’m afraid we failed to keep up.
We weren’t alone – Cllr Bourne asked for a written transcript.
The cut of the gib was housing needs of disabled people. The allegation was made that Colchester Borough Homes is not complying with the Equalities Act.
Resident Katie Francis returned to the Cultural Quarter with some arguments relating to the Local Plan.
Tip: never take on a Cabinet member who is already on the back foot over detail. Cllr Cory was well prepared.
It was decent of Cllr Young to clarify that his rant in the local rag about the Cultural Quarter becoming a “derelict wasteland” was his own opinion, and not that of collective Cabinet policy.
Some opinions are worth listening to more than others.
The final Have Your Say speaker was Labour’s Cllr Adam Fox. He made some fantastic points about how CBC can help residents, staff and yes, Cllr’s to improve on the mental health of everyone.
And that was pretty much it.
Time and tide [WORK] has meant that The Chronic doesn’t hang around now for the actual meat on the bone of the full Cabinet agenda items.
And so we missed out on:
Approval of the sale of 4 sites to Colchester Amphora Homes and resulting financial arrangements for the company and the Council
2017/18 Year End Review of Risk Management
Policy and Public Initiatives Panel – Outcome of Public Engagement and
Calendar of Meetings 2019-2020.
My pleasure, other people’s leisure etc.