In Members we trust
Another guest post today; this time combining (in a slightly odd way) Sean Bean, buffets, outbuildings and our trust in local councillors. If you have anything you’d like us to put up on the site please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org … But not before you’ve read the post below:
Growing up we all have people that we idolise, sports people, actors, pop stars etc. For me, about 5 years ago I went through a phase, or shall we say a mild obsession, with the 90’s historical drama Sharpe, based on the Bernard Cornwell novels. As to be expected, I was a very big fan of Major Sharpe, as played by Sean Bean. He seemed to be this amazing character who could take on the entire French Army single handed and always got the girl(s).
A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to meet Sean Bean, or more specifically hang around in his company a bit stalker-like, while he had lunch. To be honest, he was quite short and not as rugged as I had hoped, needless to say I was a little disappointed. The old adage, ‘never meet your heroes, you’ll only be disappointed’ was indeed very apt.
Sadly, I would apply that same advice to your local Councillors.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some individuals that do instil a great deal of confidence, and are highly intelligent, highly skilled, well balanced individuals. They are particularly adept at providing a strong strategic direction whilst supporting their officers and are universally respected amongst the local community. I would suggest however, that this is not the norm.
Just sometimes, members do provide just a little cause for concern. A colleague within my Council recently advised me that there was a statistically significant relationship between Councillor attendance to meetings and the provision of lunch. This has been proven on a number of occasions and in fact no matter what the event they are always the first in line for the buffet. The tired and hungry officers, witnesses, guests and members of the public always have to wait their turn, while the Councillors help themselves.
Now I don’t want to seem precious about a little food and drink, provided that our Councillors provide that representation and leadership that the borough craves. After all, they need to make those important decisions and support officers in their work.
Sadly though, the local planning committees seem to bring the worst out in them (this is a meeting without food). One of our committees recently made the decision to grant planning permission for an outbuilding on the basis that had been there for at least four years and was therefore immune. Nothing wrong with that I hear you say, other than the fact that the Enforcement Officer was able to provide a dated aerial photograph that clearly showed the building wasn’t there three years ago. The paper included a quote from one of Councillors stating that “Councillors have the right to make decisions as we see fit”. You simply can’t deny that’s the case….!?!
Now while I’m not going to lose sleep over an outbuilding, I am more than a little concerned that our members will be sitting down in March with a long list of budget savings, one of them (and a fairly small one) being my job.
I can only hope that the Councillors don’t view my measly salary as hungrily as the Chicken Wings which were available at the buffet and view the Service Impact document with a little more reverence than the indisputable aerial photo of someone’s shed.