Curiosity got the better of me last night as I joined Malcolm Mildren in attending the first Borough Council meeting of the new term to check up on how the new administration and new members were fairing.
Overall it was rather a turgid affair, Cllrs were shown a propaganda piece telling them all how wonderful the Housing Department are (true in some areas, but woefully untrue in others such as sheltered housing) and the skateboarders, no doubt urged on by ex Cllr Paul Varnsverry turned up en masse to call for action from the new Council to match the promises made to them before the election.
I expect (as we always said) slight differences of opinion on this one. It is true that £250,000 has been set aside in the capital programme towards such a facility, but the last Lib Dem and the current Conservatives expect this to pay for consultants and design costs and kick start some further match funding towards the overall project, whilst it seems the skateboarders think that the land will be given free and that the £250,000 will cover all of the initial build cost? I told them before the last election when they last wheeled into the chamber that they should take a leaf from the council oppositions ABC mantra of ACCEPT NOTHING, BELIEVE NO ONE AND CHECK EVERYTHING
There were a number of lack lustre oral contributions mainly from the old guard (worrying as they should be showing the new Cllrs the way!) The Tory new boys and girls mostly sat on their hands, the Lib Dem's haven't got any new blood, (not a lot of old blood either) but special mention must go to Labour's Gareth Eales and Elizabeth Gowen, who both put in confident and challenging contributions in what was their first meeting, if the Labour Party has a future then I believe it will be well served by letting young Cllrs like Gareth and Elizabeth off the leash as often as possible.
However the high and low point of the evenings political muse must go to Cllr John Yates, the only person in the chamber to have served in the last and the new administration, Questioned by Labours Winston Strachan on a pet subject of mine from the past, RATS, Winston informed Yatesy that an increase in the rat population had become apparent in the town centre and asked him if the Council, who sacked its rat catcher in 2009 and closed the Pest Control department soon after, would reinstate both.
"Let me tell the Councillor that I know all about rats" Said Yatesy "I keep chickens and they are attracted to them" and then he made the most extraordinary comment which should have been the headline in today's Chronicle and Echo when he suggested "People should do as I do and go down B&Q and buy some strong rat poison"
So there we have it, caring conservatism, the Big Society, in the absence of a town rat catcher and a rise in the rat population as a result, Northampton's hard working council tax payers should become more involved in civic matters by spending our dwindling disposable income down at our local B&Q on rat poison to chuck around the Market Square to help NBC to banish the vermin!!
A shocking response to be given to both a disturbing and very important question by the opposition, unfortunately for us all, nobody came back at him and having easily drawn out the worst side of the new administration the combined opposition let him off the ropes.
We can be wait to see if this incredulous suggestion from Northampton Conservative Group does reach the pages of the Chron in days to come.
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