IT was a tepid no-score draw at last night’s full council meeting in Camden. Of course, the issues being discussed were important and key to how your money is spent, but it would be hard to find a councillor who didn’t feel, deep down, that the proceedings had an air of the deathly dull. Some squabbling, some blaming, some worthy but long-winded speeches, some historic political quotes from Julian Fulbrook – the usual fare, although no public deputations and just a solitary soul (for about an hour) in the public gallery.
But as the hour turned late, anybody who had fallen drowsy by the meeting’s repetitive beat would have been woken arched-back to attention by the sudden entrance of ‘Roaring’ Roger Freeman (Listen below, you might need to turn your computer’s sound down).
The mild-mannered Conservative backbencher’s eyebrows clipped into right angles, a face of fury, when he felt the Labour Mayor was trying to ‘rush through’ a motion about zero hours contracts. Not before have we seen such fury from the Swiss Cottage councillor, better known for rocking out in red or salmon pink trousers with a freewheeling style normally reserved for hipsters in east London.
Everybody turned to look.
Then John Bryant, the Liberal Democrats’ wizard of deadpan procedural information, got up and earnestly diffused the situation by explaining the clocks were a bit out of time in the chamber and there was still two minutes for a discussion. And we all breathed a sigh of relief.
The ‘Roger Roar’ however might just have been a glimpse, albeit tiny, of how councillors themselves may feel frustrated about the damp nature of the all-member meeting. Surely at some stage most of them have asked themselves: What are we actually doing here? Council leader Sarah Hayward has been sensible enough to ask them all for ideas about how to make the session more effective but apparently nobody has yet to come up with a magic solution.