Shropshire councillors warned not to make political announcements during council meetings or adjust their trousers

The legals at Shropshire Council have accepted my complaint that manifesto commitments must not be announced during council meetings. That is a long standing rule but the Tories decided to announce their manifesto commitment to highways at the Place Overview Committee on Tuesday.

There was a bit of argy-bargy with the Chief Monitoring Officer who initially supported the statement by deputy leader Steve Charmley as being nothing more than a contribution to the debate. No one agreed with that position. Today we councillors got a correction and instructions that this must not happen again.

This not a Tory council. It is Shropshire’s council. More on Tory trousers and adjustments thereof below.

The Chief Monitoring Officer changed her advice after I had complained that she had made no objection to the Conservatives’ statement at Place Overview. She responded:

“I double checked to see if the word “conservative” was used and not just the word “administration”, as explained to me by Cllr Charmley. Once I saw the word “conservative” was used I gave my advice to group leaders.” 

So Charmley lied. Par for the course. The new advice to group leaders is:

Please be careful when speaking in public meetings of the Council. Please do not use the opportunity to publicise your political manifesto promises. You can use words when talking about your intentions in the future, like “I” or “We” but please do not refer to your political party/group i.e. conservatives, liberal democrat or labour etc. This would be an abuse of your positions within the Council and could be seen as gaining an advantage over that of other candidates. The Council must remain neutral and must not be seen to be giving anyone an advantage when it comes to publicity. This has never been an issue in the past and it would be a shame if it became one for this election.

Moving on in what seems an ever crazier world, one of the more cantankerous members of the council from somewhere to the east us got in a rage about decorum. During council meetings, councillors and officers can see each other but members of the public, journalists and other unprivileged people can only hear the audio stream. I don’t know why that rule exists.

Most councillors had their head in a last minute check of the hundreds of pages of council papers. We are thinking did we miss something?

But one underworked councillor spotted another member of the council adjusting his trousers and another blowing his nose and studiously examining the contents. These horrendous breaches of decorum led to an explosion outrage from that member of the extreme right about decorum. “This is Shropshire Council not the damned Knesset”. When I complained about this extraordinary language, the member for Highley called me a clown. Apparently, he was simply raging about members of the Knesset wearing causal to meetings and for that the Knesset should be damned. He needs training on the sensitivities of modern political life and advice on modern dress standards.  

Why would anyone think this was important? Some councillors have so little to do their littleness becomes important.

At this point, you must wonder where reality lies. Councillors wondering about the adjustment of trousers. Councillors obsessed with their screens not their paperwork.

Although I am not the one of the councillors accused of examining bogies during a meeting or of adjusting trousers, I will in future ensure that I am presentable enough for that member. No more boxer shorts. No more commando (blush!). I am currently ironing my one and only tie. I might even comb my hair. Maybe.

Thank goodness elections are coming up in May and there is a chance to clear out the dead and dying wood from the council.

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