59 days to go
ONE THING YOU WON’T MISS THIS
THAT’S a message for all the departing councillors – and there’s loads of them – as they head to the Crowndale Centre tonight for one last full council meeting. I have never met an escapee from Camden’s council politics who has told me ‘you know what I really miss… Monday night full councils’. Never happened. In fact, very quickly ex-councillors begin to wonder why they spent so much time
staring at their phone sitting through them.
They may not realise it now, when they are trying to bob and weave and score some last minute points ahead of the elections – but almost certainly they will look back and prefer whatever they end up doing post-this. They may miss being a councillor and helping people through their surgeries and so on, but not full council meetings.
That sounds quite depressing, especially as I’ve
sat stood through nearly everyone for the last 20 years – who’s the real winner here – but the format of the meetings has never really been altered to make them effective. The hope that came with the introduction of themed debates in recent years slipped away as they became lectures or seminars; decent external speakers showcasing what they do but without the debate leading to any real resolutions. And yes, more staring at phones and ipads.
Maybe a motion could be connected to each debate to keep things sharper.
At times, such huge topics have been chosen that it’s been impossible to zero in on details where the council can make an instant or quick change for the better. At the same time, the councillors who get up and speak, if we are honest, is limited to a dozen or so; whether that’s the format or a lack of will/interest from some members… well you can decide.
Of course, the idea of reforming the session has been discussed here and there for years, maybe decades. But like the way you won’t find a former councillor missing them once they’ve left, you are unlikely to find a current one saying, hand on heart, they think it’s an effective mechanism for changing much. Anyway… enjoy tonight.
ONE LAST LOOK AROUND THE NEW PLACE
NOT all of the councillors who will be standing down/forced to stand down at May’s elections will be in the chamber tonight, but some will look around the room and savour a packed room for the last time. Regardless of whether you with agree with the miserly assessment of full council sessions above, the virtual meetings that took place online during the coronavirus lockdowns could never adequately take the place of our debating chamber.
Yes, it was fun to stare at the councillors’ bookshelves for copies of Tony Blair biographies and we met a few lively pets too – and councillors could have a beer or wine – but it’s been a shame for the current cohort that so much has been done through a box on a screen.
A shame too, that some councillors will have hardly sat on the green benches of Judd Street. As bright and airy as the Crowndale is – good for photos of people pointing – the history and tradition is back in the ‘old place’.
For those who may have missed the news and announcements (and controversy) in the CNJ, those who we already know will definitely not be coming back after May are:
LABOUR: Douglas Beattie, Nayra Bello O’Shanahan, Leo Cassarani, Maryam Eslamdoust, Thomas Gardiner, Abdul Hai, Alison Kelly, Oliver Lewis, Gail McAnena Wood Angela Mason, Simon Pearson, Abdul Quadir, Georgie Robertson, Roger Robinson, Ranjit Singh, Peter Taheri, Paul Tomlinson
CONSERVATIVES: Maria Higson, Henry Newman,
LIB DEMS: Luisa Porritt
That’s 20 farewells (21 if you include Lazzaro Pietragnoli’s seat, which has not been filled since his resignation last autumn)
SHAME ON YOU!
SOME of you may remember Cllr Barnes from being the former Tory parliamentary candidate in Holborn and St Pancras:
There's no point having a council meeting if nobody shouts SHAME ON YOU at any stage.
Marks out of 10 for this effort from Conservative councillor Tim Barnes in Westminster last night: pic.twitter.com/BmavNKNOmu
— Richard Osley (@RichardOsley) March 3, 2022