High Steward, High Jinx

And so Sir Bob of Sunny Colch was back at the Town Hall last night addressing the CBC Cabinet in his role of High Steward of Colchester.

The deference around the top table from the WEIRD LibLab Cabinet was a little awkward to observe, but we bit our tongue and GRINNED with the best of them.

You many remember how Sir Bob became a High Steward having been dumped by the people of Colchester at the General Election in May of this year.

To his credit, Will Quince MP made the move to offer Sir Bob a new role, now that he has got a little extra time on his hands.

And whaddyaknow – Sir Bob is making the most of his new unelected, unaccountable position.

His point of interest at Cabinet on Wednesday was to question the wisdom of CBC offering up £100,000 to Firstsite as a one off contribution.

This funding is SEPARATE to the annual grant that CBC gives to Firstsite – and the Mercury and the Arts Centre.

In fact the actual CBC annual grant to the Golden Goose has been cut by 15% for this year.

Sir Bob’s beef was that Cabinet should also be handing out any spare grubby fivers to Age UK Colchester as well.

At least we think that was the point.

There was a little confusion if Sir Bob was asking for the Firstsite money to go instead to Age UK, or if Age UK should ALSO receive £100,000.

CBC LibDem Leader [although not Leader of his own party] Cllr Paul Smith tried to pass over the confusion and welcomed the suggestion.

Comrade Tim Young was quick on the semantics, and reminded Sir Bob that his Have Your Say contribution didn’t actually call for the Firstsite money to be stopped.

But we were left a little confused by the whole process.

Was Sir Bob addressing Cabinet as the High Steward or as a resident?

The deference paid to him in the Grand Jury Room was almost deafening. But he was speaking at Have Your Say, a right that is offered to all residents.

The issue here is exactly what is Sir Bob’s role as the High Steward of Colchester?

The CBC Cabinet papers [pdf] that first floated the idea back in June state:

“The Charter sets out the duties of the High Steward as being to advise and direct the Mayor and Commonalty of the same Borough in the chief business touching that Borough.”

But the 1835 Municipal Corporation Act abolished most High Stewards and only allowed Colchester’s petition to retain a High Steward on condition that the wording of the Charter “…advise and direct…” be reduced to merely “…advise…”

Yeah, we’ve been reading Wikipedia once again.

And so crucially can Sir Bob advise, or advise and direct?

On Wednesday evening he appeared to be doing both – which is a bit of a conflict of interest when you have the ex-LibDem MP advising the LibDem led Cabinet.

One to watch…