INTERESTING chat with Lib Dem councillor Arthur Graves today about his plans for life after the council elections. The CNJ revealed a few weeks ago about how he will not seek re-election in the Belsize ward.
Some of his rivals will say there’s no big surprise in that as he seems to be spending more time meddling in Islington politics than fixing problems for residents in Camden. He’s popped up a few times in the Islington Tribune newspaper and appears on local Lib Dem websites sharing forthright views about problems with Archway tube and other nuisances. No wonder the whispers at the Town Hall have been swirling with the question: Has he been distracted from his own constituents?
The subject of the Lib Dem workload in Belsize is ultimately a sensitive topic. One Lib Dem councillor, Chris Basson, stepped down suffering from depression, while another party ward member Alexis Rowell doubles up as the eco-champion with a brief as big as the world. In a ward which will be closely fought between the Lib Dems and the Tories at the next elections, the Conservatives would love to be able to say that their rivals have not being paying close attention to the needs of Belsize residents.
Art has a superbly dry sense of humour and will always be remembered for telling council officials to speed up with their work with the immortal line: ‘If this is a complicated issue then I am a pomegranate‘. He dealt with my questions over the phone confidently, insisting that despite all the predictions he had not been selected as a candidate in Islington. Yet. He added that nobody was missing out because he was ‘one of the hardest working councillors in Camden’ still ploughing through the casework. The proof of that, he said, was his keenness to recently take on more licensing committee work. Fine. Ok. Fair enough.
…Then, a few hours later, off the back of that old leaky Town Hall email lorry fell this message, one that Arthur had circulated last month in which he did not seem so enthusiastic about the extra tasks that licensing panels might bring. In fact, reading this message, his council colleagues might have been forgiven for thinking there was an only-call-me-in-an-emergency tone to it.
From: Graves, Arthur (Councillor)
Sent: Tue 22/09/2009 15:56
To: (Council officer, councillors)
Subject: RE: attendance at Licensing Ctte on 23rd Sept 09
I’ve already indicated that I will not be able to attend any of the full committee meetings. I have made myself available as an emergency member for panel’s that find themselves becoming inquorate but that is it. It might be prudent to make this point clear to the committee as a whole so they are not under the impression that there is now an extra member to make up the numbers and thus an opportunity for the full members to miss meetings.