The Plastic Hippo

May 24, 2016


Filed under: Politics,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 6:00 am
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Bayards Colts

Bayards Colts

After a busy evening of making a new Mayor of Walsall and a new Deputy Mayor of Walsall, adjourning the meeting of full council to the Mayor`s parlour for the ceremonial opening of the municipal drinks cabinet has to be a very good idea. Traditional local authority Mayors and Deputy Mayors are simply wonderful and the appearance of slightly embarrassed elevated councillors in pantomime robes and chains of office at school assemblies, garden fetes, supermarket openings, whist drive closings and dog shows is a joy that epitomises the very essence of British eccentricity. Traditional Mayors and Deputy Mayors raise an absolute fortune for charitable causes and display a civic responsibility that is generally a stranger to other elected members governed by self-interest.

Here in glorious Walsall, we are fortunate to have Councillor Kath Phillips as the new Madame Mayor championing St Giles` Hospice and Councillor Marco Longhi as Deputy Mayor. They will raise an absolute fortune for charitable causes and will be shining examples of just what local government is capable of doing. Interestingly, in a borough like Walsall where no overall control tends to be the default status and stasis, the Mayor has the casting vote. In these circumstances, the role of Mayor is far more than merely ceremonial. Kath Phillips gets to vote twice.

Having adjourned to the parlour for a sweet sherry and a fistful of peanuts, the full council will return to the chamber on Wednesday and then the fun begins. After the formal acceptance of the local election results, the membership of various committees, chairs, vice-chairs and sundry other constitutional matters, the council knuckles down to what is basically a three item agenda. Here is, according to the published papers, the evening`s likely entertainment.

18. To confirm the following recommendations of the Standards Committee:
(1) Social media policy for Councillors
That the draft Social Media Protocol for Councillors be included in the Codes and Protocols section of the Council Constitution. (Note: Report to Standards Committee from its meeting on 26th April 2016 reproduced in the reports booklet for this meeting.)

(2) Disclosure and Barring Service checks for Councillors
That Council approve the creation of a scheme by the Monitoring Officer, in consultation with group leaders, to ensure that all Councillors have a criminal record check appropriate to their role and function with the Council. (Note: Report to Standards Committee from its meeting on 26th April 2016 reproduced in the reports booklet for this meeting.

19. To consider the following motion, notice of which has been duly given by Councillors Chambers, Worrall, Burley and Young: In accordance with the provisions of the Local Government Act 2000, as amended, by paragraph 67 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007, and as provided for in Article 7, paragraph 7.04 of the Council’s Constitution, this Council resolves to remove Councillor Michael Bird from the office of Leader with immediate effect and also in accordance with the aforementioned Act, Councillor Sean Coughlan be appointed as Leader of the Council.

Yes I know it`s boring but…

Item 18 (1) might be of interest to the newly appointed Deputy Mayor and might explain his recent and rather bizarre return to social media. The councillor is either having some sort of emotional crisis or has embarked on an elaborate reverse psychology campaign to ensure that the UK remains part of the European Union. Flurrying RTs from some very strange people and linking to the likes of Toby Young, Nigel Lawson and the rather disturbing former Archbishop of Canterbury, an unpleasant old man called George Carey, is either a masterful Machiavellian strategy to ensure a secure and united Europe or an example of being a bit dim.

Obviously, representing Pelsall, the new Deputy Mayor has a social media profile that states that his views are his own, RTs are not endorsements and attacking people who disagree with him on Twitter is central to the ongoing and vital Italian and, therefore, European Renaissance. If the Social Media Protocol is passed on Wednesday, then we might be blessed by welcomed charity information from the new Deputy Mayor rather than this crude, childish and patronising nonsense. Re-publishing an image of a solitary middle-aged white man holding a placard and wearing a pith helmet in Peterborough is not evidence of “overwhelming support” for leaving the European Union.

Moving on to Disclosure and Barring Service checks for Councillors. It is absolutely unthinkable that any councillor, anywhere, at any time, would have, could have, and should have acted illegally. The disclosure legislation is, quite rightly, targeted at child protection issues but councillors across the nation have objected to scrutiny because it means that they will face some embarrassing financial interrogation. In Walsall, it will be really interesting to see a record of criminal convictions.

In terms of criminal conviction, the notice of motion from councillors Chambers, Worrall, Burley and Young suggests a protracted and possible screenplay treatment for the next Ken Loach blockbuster movie. It is a mark of a bitter, twisted and rather sad individual who would take such pleasure in reproducing the words “remove Councillor Michael Bird from the office of Leader with immediate effect”. I am such a bitter, twisted and sad individual and take great comfort from the immanent removal of this liability.

When a “veteran” local politician finally hangs up his kicking boots, it is customary to recall his many achievements and the good that he has bestowed upon his grateful constituents. Unfortunately, Mike Bird after all these years has achieved nothing. Rather than improving the town of Walsall, he has by his own self-interest, greed and incompetence, made this rather friendly and pleasant town something of a joke. He might have increased his own income through allowances and made sure that his friends were protected from impertinent planning legislation and ensured that Tory donors could buy schools and parks and spy on council employees and council tax payers under counter-terrorism law and charge war widows car parking fines on Remembrance Sunday and then blame the electorate for the fact that he is a complete waste of space and the embodiment of everything that is wrong with local government.

In an extraordinary stream of consciousness, the former Boss Hogg of Walsall opened his pacemaker to the local press and attacked the voters of Walsall. He said:
“It is not sour grapes but I have to say the turnout this year was disgraceful. There is no excuse not to vote, it is just laziness.

“These people will then complain at the decisions made by the administrations but I am sorry that is not how it works if you can’t be bothered to get off your backside.”

“We will be a responsible opposition party.

“We will look at things critically and if we feel things need challenging then we will have decisions called in and go through the scrutiny process.”

It would, of course, be churlish to register the abstentions registered to Bird and the now historic Conservative Cabinet who have worked tirelessly to perfect incompetence and ruin the town of Walsall. We, as an electorate, are obviously lazy, idle, disgraceful and unable to access council allowances fitting for a lifestyle of public service.

I for one will be very pleased to hear no more of Councillor Mike Bird, or the bizarre spectrum of his former Cabinet. They have done enough.

Now is time for recovery and that recovery will only be granted once we have moved away from the influence of small-minded, inadequate and really rather stupid bullies like Mike Bird.

1 Comment »

  1. What a strange place is Walsall.

    After years of deadlock, we have another deadlock. Guess who has always been available to solve the problem? Step forward Cllr. Ian Shires. This man is the Harry Houdini and Ghostbusters of local politics.

    Whatever might be at stake, Ian is there to sort it. Not bad for a man who leads a political party that has, for about 30 years, comprised mostly himself.

    After years of this crap, why would anyone bother to vote?

    To cap it all, we again are left with a Mayoral casting vote. As all Mayors do, she will raise a rake of cash for her chosen charity. The trick is how she will use her second and casting vote.

    I am sure that the new Leader has mentally rehearsed this situation many times and will apply Party and Coalition discipline.

    I would not trust Kath Phillips and Ian Shires to look after my cat for an afternoon.

    The new Leader should be worried.

    Comment by The Realist — May 24, 2016 @ 11:27 am | Reply

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