The residents of Stoke park have a right to know why I walked out of full council, following the Q&A questions from our Group to the Labour administration, and I have every intention of giving a full explanation right here on this blog.
I have been a councillor for over 7 years now and never have I walked out of any council meeting, although recently it has been a close call. So let me start there.
I can only describe the Labour administration and some of their backbenchers as a Muster of Peacocks looking so pleased with themselves and enjoying the mocking, jeering, juvenile laughter that tends to come our way.
Now I don't mind a bit of banter - it's good for all of us - but it has to be appropriate and not be detrimental to the professionalism of the environment.
Let me take you back, just a little, to the questions I put to Councillor Smart when I was campaigning for the saving of the no 16 bus route to Stoke Park. Councillor Smart assured us that all would be well with ALL bus routes but in doing so decided to take a swipe at me, alluding (or even inferring) that I wouldn't be around next year anyway, so any long term guarantees to me were not really relevant. As I am up for election next year, this was obviously a 'funny' meaning I would lose my seat. In the public gallery was a resident of mine who came to hear the answers to the bus question. So disgusted was she by the behaviour of labour councillors that she said she would never come again. I was furious to say the least and apologised on their behalf. But that's not the point. Our public gallery appears to be shrinking - I wonder why.
As an aside - I am the only Tory out of 12 councillors who represent the SW of Ipswich - read on if you think they should be left without being held to account by a member of the opposition. See if you think your concerns will be heard, especially if you're a Tory voter.
Now call me old-fashioned, but when a man is not as gentlemanly as he should be to a woman, I rather wonder how they were brought up, in their socialist household - or is the education just limited to 'Let's hate the Tories and I'm a socialist so you will be too son. Don't you let me down now boy, we have to stick together at all times and fight these nasty people. You know so that we can all have choices in life, our own voices and all be winners by ensuring the State looks after us from Cradle to Grave. So don't you dare not be a member of the labour party or the union, boy!'
Some of you may not know but the questions are submitted beforehand and so it gives plenty of time for the portfolio holder to put together an answer. I often think that some of them get together to think up the wittiest, most derogatory, patronising replies and that making people laugh is far more important than actually answering the question.
IF I WANT TO HEAR A BLOODY COMEDIAN I WOULD BUY TICKETS AND SEE A REAL ONE!
Kevin Algar a well known Tory activist asked a couple of questions to the Leader of the council, David Ellesmere. Every time Kevin asks a questions, Ellesmere always starts by saying 'you are a Tory member' as if that somehow negates the substance or validity of the question! SO, all you Tory members out there, best not ask the Leader a question, he doesn't take you very seriously at all.
Now Kevin is a unique and quirky individual who is as bright as a button when it comes to political stuff but he was told quite calmly, by Councillor Ellesmere, that the question Kevin had received from a resident (hence asking on her behalf at council) was 'as bizarre as you'. Calling a resident (that resides in your own ward!) as bizarre is totally unacceptable and he didn't even answer the question. As Kevin stated at the end 'Thankyou for so eloquently not answering my questions today'.
And this is a man who wants to be your MP! - Can you imagine Ben Gummer ever saying that to ANY resident, never mind infer that a second absent resident was also bizarre. Where is the grace, the professionalism, the courtesy that our people expect from us?
I was angry but at this point had not yet decided to leave. Worse was to come.
Last night Councillor Pope asked 2 questions. the first one to councillor Smart was about bus 31 and reminding him of his promise and using the word 'infer'. Smart commenced by telling us that the word 'infer' caused some discussion with his colleagues and proceeded to tell Richard - a teacher - what it means, all in an endeavour to undermine him and get a cheap laugh. Again, forgiveable but by now I was starting to feel ashamed of the proceedings. More was to follow.
His second question to Councillor Jones was answered by starting with the words 'you've spelt embarrassed' incorrectly. Councillor Pope responded immediately by saying he was dyslexic and would she apologise to which she adamantly replied No!
Now firstly, if you want to humiliate a teacher then there's an easy way to do that - pick up on mistakes. The spelling had nothing to do with the question, was irrelevant, could've been the officer who typed up the question but again, let's knock a Tory when we can and have a bit of fun. If councillor Jones had apologised immediately, I would not have walked out but this was a pantomine scene too much.
Councillor Pope, Harsant and SCC councillor Murray walked out with me along with Kevin Algar. I was disgusted and still am. a night's sleep has not curbed my determination to put a stop to the frivolous.
The labour group are behaving worse each month and I have told my leader that if he doesn't put a complaint in, I will. Let's have some fun and banter (I have actually laughed out loud at some of the Leaders comments - I am not without a great sense of humour) but let's draw a line on patronising humiliation to get a laugh at someone else's expense when what they should be doing is answering the bloody questions.
So people of Ipswich, don't be put off by coming along - I promise you that I will personally be working towards helping the administration and back benchers to give the taxpayers what they deserve, but if they don't co-operate on this, I do not rule out walking out again.