The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, so as the Lib Dems on the Borough Council begin their feeble attempts to convince an election ready public that they have led us well at the Town Hall for the past four years I thought I would ask a public question of their leader. I have asked it before.............twice......................and got no answer, perhaps today in print and with an election in the air I will be more successful.
You see about 2 years ago a sitting Liberal Democrat Councillor, knocked on the door of one of their elderly constituents just before Xmas and told them that they (the Cllr) were in so much debt that if they didn't find £150 then the bailiffs would be paying them a visit! And then in a complete reversal of the normal councillor/constituent relationship the Lib Dem Cllr asked the pensioner to lend them the £150 with sincere promises to pay it back.
Now obviously the words "promises" and "Liberal Democrats" do not sit well together in the best of circumstances, but here we had an elected member of the Borough Council going far beyond asking someone to lend them their vote. Disgraceful I hear you cry, but we have only just begun.
The money was not pf course paid back, so the pensioner wrote to me and others asking if I we could intervene. A telephone call with the Chief Executive and the Borough Solicitor determined that the matter of money owed was of course a private civil matter between the two people lender and recipient, but the Councillor in question may have bought the council or their office into disrepute, so a standards board complaint could be raised. This could if the Cllr was found in breach of the code lead to them being suspended for a period of time or even barred from the council, but as the Cllr in question has only attended a handful of meetings since their election, this would have been a reward not a penalty and still would not have got the pensioner his money back.
So after mulling things over I decided instead to call upon the moral compass and good nature of the Leader of the Council in his role as Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group to help me resolve the matter, my request was simple.
"Brian. this sort of despicable behaviour reflects badly on all of us, will you please raise this matter with your group, and can I ask that the debt is paid by the Liberal Democrat group from their funds and then reclaimed from the Cllr from their expenses"
I told him I had no appetite for a pointless standards board meeting, particularly as the Cllr in question would not be standing for re-election (thankfully) and left it with him to resolve internally and come back to me once it was resolved. (so much for comments from the Lib Dem benches as to me being over political, for once I cared nothing for the political fallout, I just wanted the old guy to get his money back
Surely in the Spirit of collective responsibility the Liberal Democrat group would want to deal with and remove this stain on their reputation? No such luck, despite reminding the Leader of the Council of my request he refused to update me as to his or the groups actions.
Another Lib Dem member on the Council, obviously with a conscience informed me when I raised it with them that the group had decided not to pay the debt on the Cllr's behalf.
The weakness of leadership in such a situation is depressing, the lack of willingness by the collective whole to act decently to correct the wrongs of one of their own staggering. But now at least you know the measure of the people you are dealing with on the doorstep over the next few weeks.
£150 wouldn't even buy them a focus leaflet, and I still give Brian Hoare the opportunity through this page to tell me he has now dealt with this matter or plans to do so, but it should not have taken me to write these words to spur them into action, their inaction so far on this matter speaks far louder than my words ever can
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