I attended todays full council meeting of Salford City Council and what a farce it was ! I attended with Geoffrey Berg the mayoral petitioner who collected over 10,000 signatures to force Salford City Council to hold a mayoral referendum for a directly elected mayor. I intend to do another blog about the merits of a directly-elected mayor in local government as a better system of local government and why I am supported a YES campaign.
Central government believes an elected mayor system is a good system of local government, hence their reason for allowing Manchester to hold a referendum as of right in 2012, a right not given to Salford. I believe what is good for Manchester is good for Salford and therefore Geofreeys endeavours to get the signatures to force the referendum should be commended.
The meeting started of with prayers by the ceremonial mayor's chaplain which I observed. Then the meeting started.
The Council agreed a constitution, presumably one which incorporates the current system. The constitution was used as an opportunity to raise the issue of the referendum. Councillor John Merry made wild allegations about the petition, using his position to scaremonger and saying it was not possible to cut council tax by half which I believe it can. Councillor Merry challenged the Conservatives to say if council tax could be cut in half why hadnt they proposed it in the past as though that justified his stance. Maybe they are just unable to tackle such in issue in this way ?
It was clear the Conservative Party are in favour of a directly elected mayor and they made that known at this meeting.
The position of the Liberal Democrat leader was plain ludicrous. Rumours surfaced at this meeting that he has been deselected in Claremont ? Going on his performance in todays council meeting he might as well been sat on the Labour benches. Going on his crawling to the ruling Labour group it would not surprise me because he did not behave as an opposition councillor/leader at all. He was useless.
Several Labour councillor's got up to argue against a directly-elected mayor making wild allegations no doubt to try and feed the hungry press and give them a ridiculous story to scaremonger the people of Salford into a NO vote. It was pathetic. What are they afraid of ? One Labour councillor even suggested that in the event of a YES vote it maybe by default. An insult to the people of the City of Salford !
The council had 10 minutes break. During the break Councillor Peter Connor started shouting/ranting up to the public gallery in the direction of me and Geoffrey Berg shouting "Are you paying for it?" referring to the referendum yet do we hear these councillors go on about the cost of local elections when they are elected time after time at the same cost ? No ! Cllr Connor lost himself that much I had to shout down at the chamber towards the councillor to request that he calmed down.
The meeting resumed.
During the meeting Councillor David Lancaster swore, Councillor Roger Jones swore and Councillor Balkind had completely lost it with Councillor Garrido where rants where bellowed by Councillor Balkind in response to comments made by Councillor R Garrido.
In terms of protocol and mutual respect it was a disgrace and a shambles. The language used by some elected members was shameful and thank goodness no school children was present to listen to such language by our so-called civic leaders.
The Conservative Group moved an amendment to a Labour proposal to keep the status quo for the parliamentary boundaries ie to keep the Salford & Eccles constituency which Swinton is in. The Conservatives moved an amendment to retain the Boundary Commission proposals to set up a SWinton constituency which would include Eccles and "Old" Salford be a constituency of its own. The Conservative proposal I support and resonates with my campaign in Swinton to support a SWinton constituency. I was the first to come out to support a Swinton constituency politically so I was pleased the Tories supported the position I was already campaigning for.
The controlling Labour group wanted to keep the Salford constituency and oppose a SWinton constituency. Not surprisingly, the Labour councillor's in SWinton did not support a SWinton constituency and voted agaainst the Conservative amendment and voted for the Labour proposal to have a Salford constituency ! What an abandonment of their own town they are suppose to be representing. Taking the town and its people for granted !
Councillor Norman Owen Lib Dems mentioned Swinton North in his comments looking at Labour so it was clear to me that the council is aware of my campaign in Swinton North. When Councillor's Antrobus & Hinds voted against a SWinton constituency they looked in my direction at the public gallery knowing they should not be going against their own town but did so to toe the party line against their own town. What a disgrace. Shame on them !