Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Tories and Liberal Democrats on Reading Borough Council Fail their Voters.

This is a picture of the residents of Park Ward before the Council Meeting this evening, where we were bringing the Petition, to ask the Council to support us, Asking two questions, and Park Ward Councillor Jon Hartley was bringing a motion asking the Council to support the residents campaign and be willing if necessary to take legal advice in order to threaten Wokingham with legal action.

As you can see we are all relatively happy and looking forward to a positive meeting. Unfortunately the Tories and the Liberal Democrats combined to thwart the cross party consensus that has been built up and decided to attack members of the Parents group. I am very cross about the meeting, and may have been a little intemperate with my comments in the meeting, so apologise ,in public, if I spoke out of turn.

Petition Presentation.
I presented the petition, and asked the Council to support the more than 600 people who had taken the time to sign it. I asked a simple question, how far was the Tory/Lib Dem Council willing to go in support of parents. Councillor Ralph, lead Councillor for Education, hedged his answer and began to attack the Labour Party, This being despite the all party consensus about the issue that had previously been established.

Questions to Council
This is where it started to really kick off, Karly asked a reasonable question and got a non committal answer. I asked what the Council would do to support the campaign and Cllr Ralph indicated that he would reply to the consultation, but not threaten legal action. He the proceeded to attack me. Very nice, very cowardly, very weak.

Motion to Council
Cllr Jon Hartley had kindly arranged with the Mayor to bring the motion forward so we could hear it at a reasonable time. Jon proposed the motion and Cllr White seconded it. They made clear and cogent arguments as to why RBC should support the motion.

Then something odd happened, instead of Park Ward's Tory Councillor standing up and supporting the motion, which he had had in his hands for nearly 3 weeks, Cllr Ralph stood up and presented a counter Motion which removed any attempt to seek legal advice and which refused to threaten legal action.

And even stranger thing happened,Liberal Democrat Cllr Rebecca Rye, despite saying in an email that she supported parents, stood up and supported Cllr Ralph's weaker motion. In effect she went back on her word and refused to support the parents.

And then something even stranger happened. We were stabbed in the back by the two Tory Councillors who made as if they supported the campaign, that being Park Tory Cllr Hussain and Thames Tory Cllr Balsdon. Balsdon even had the gall to shout at a Green Road resident. Park Tory Hussain, stood up and simply supported his fellow Tories, while trying to soften the blow by soft soaping, myself, Jane and the other parent campaigners.

And then it got worse. The Tories, seemed to enjoy attacking the Parents in the public gallery, and especially me. They seemed to think that the campaign was some kind of political football rather than the cross party and cross community effort that it had been hitherto.

The Lib Dems were even worse. They divided their time between, attacking the parents, attacking the Labour group, attacking the Greens, or was that the Tories who attacked the Greens, I forget now. When they weren't spreading bile about the place they were texting or on Facebook. The two worst offenders were, Cllr Swaine, (Katesgrove), Cllr Daisy Benson ( Redlands). Benson was very rude, because she was actively laughing at the parents..

So the meeting dragged to a close. Balsdon attacking members of the public, Hussain, letting his constituents down, the Lib Dems who promised so much changing their tune and laughing at residents...No change their then.

We fight on.

Winston Churchill had a phrase when things had gone against him, that was Keep Buggering On. That is what we have to do, keep lobbying Reading Borough Council to support its residents, if necessary with legal action, keep lobbying Wokingham Borough Council, who sent a spy to the meeting, and keep responding to the consultation.