Say hello to ‘Roger’s Roar’

freemanrageIT 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.

4 Comments on Say hello to ‘Roger’s Roar’

  1. Hmm….. I like the Roger roar and believe that it was justified. Big issues need serious discussion – not premature closure.

    I disagree with Mr Osley, owner of this blog on the matter of Council meetings. Full Council meetings are an important way of holding the administration to account, on behalf of the people of Camden.

    For me, the meeting wasn’t dull. It exposed the issues in Housing, especially Leaseholder problems, and Adult Social Care (including the LLW and zero hours contract).

    The adminstration likes to say that it is for the London Living Wage and against zero hours contracts, but when ‘push comes to shove’ they do the opposite! People need to know that, or rather, reminded of that.

  2. Richard Osley // September 10, 2013 at 2:24 pm //

    No doubt there were some weighty issues there, Dynamite, but surely you can only ‘expose’ something if people are watching.

    Lucky you, though, if you are happy with the way full council is structured in its present form.

  3. Keith Sedgwick // September 11, 2013 at 1:28 am //

    Cllr. Freeman had every right to be angered by the way in which the Mayor allowed Full Council to be hijacked by the Labour administration.

    The motion in question sought to commit the Authority to, “to take a lead in working with other London Boroughs to try stamp out” the use of Zero Hour contract “in Local Government contracts”. Does this mean, that now the motion has been rammed through, with less than five minutes debate, the Council has the license to spend tax payers money promoting this cause.

    However laudable a fight against Zero Hour contracts may be, anything that entails spending tax-payer’s money should undergo the due process of normal council policy i.e consultation, an officer’s report, scrutiny and then debate at the appropriate executive meeting.

    The Mayor’s job is to ensure that the Council’s business proceeds correctly and by allowing this motion to ever be tabled and then debated so curtly, he has done his standing a great disservice.

  4. Good for Roger! Lets hope that “Roger’s Roar” will make more frequent trips to the dingy mellowed out sofa seats of Council Chambers, when Labour rushing through anything that may stick in there collective pallets.

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