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Sep 16 2013

New Council Leader is… (updated)

harrow_council_logoIn a surprise move last night at the Civic Centre, Cllr Susan Hall was elected as Leader of the Council.

A surprise? Certainly. The whole debate descended into a farce at several points, with the Mayor throwing tantrums, some councillors playing on their iPads, and one or two councillors forgetting to dress up and sporting jeans. Hardly the attire for something as unique as this.

Chief Executive Mike Lockwood spent much of the time alternating between looking glum and looking worried, Cllr Keith Ferry suggested that 17 of the Constitution’s rules be effectively ripped up for the duration of the meeting – a move which saw an adjournment for ten minutes to allow copies to be hastily produced and distributed. Despite the Mayor originally thinking she’d call a vote on the whole block en-masse, she backtracked, and made Cllrs Osborn and Ferry read them out one by one, like naughty schoolboys, and calling a vote after each rule. End effect was generally that both Labour and Conservative agreed to discard them for the duration of the meeting, whilst ILG and the other odd independents choose to generally vote against the discarding them or abstaining.

The Mayor then started issuing veiled threats that the Councillors could be looking at ‘legal ramifications’ and then slaps Cllr Ferry around when he tries to read out two of the rules at the same time.  During all this – which took the best part of 20 minutes – Cllrs Sachin Shah and Sue Anderson were busy on Twitter. It wasn’t long before Cllr David (call me ‘Dave’) Perry got slapped down as well.

Incredibly, one of the rules kicked out was to discard points of order, and, in effect, to permit mayhem in the chamber. This meeting truly will go down as part of history!

Much-loved Cllr Husain Akhtar called for an Inquiry into the whole mess, and then in his next breath, attacked Cllr Thaya Idaikkadar’s poor English. Then, when you thought (hoped?) it couldn’t get worse, Cllr Chris Noyce likens the whole show to ‘Nazi book burning’ and accuses the Conservatives of making a ‘dire plot’ and attempting to ‘stitch up’ the ILG to gain control. He soon withered under the steely gaze of Cllr Susan Hall, and several bottles of milk reportedly turned sour as well.

Cue Comedian Stoodley for a few light-heartened jokes to lift the atmosphere, and then, out of nowhere, the Mayor thanks the public for taking an interest. An interest? In how they spend our money? And why not…?

Cllr John Nickolay introduces a sensitive and heartfelt speech, which brought decorum and gravitas to the proceedings. We do like John – never a mean word about anybody.

Cabin-boy Cllr Sachin Shah continued the nautical theme, and accused the Conservatives’ attempts of ship-steadying to something more akin to the Titantic, and received another of Cllr Susan Hall’s withering looks.

Next up, Cllr Paul Osborn looked at the positives the not-a-coalition has brought to the Council, before Cllr Susan Hall stands to respond, and accepts the praise from Cllr Chris Noyce that she had single-handedly wrought control, walked on water, and fed the five thousand with a bread roll and a tin of pilchards.

Meanwhile, the Council’s management team were paying rapt attention, probably worried about the havoc that the new leader would bring first thing tomorrow morning. Not a single iPad in sight this time.

Cllr James Bond said a few words, the most memorable of which were about comparing the meeting to a ‘car crash’, although he notes that residents are the most important part of the equation.

Finally, we get to the climax, or in this case, the first of a series of multiple-orgasms: the vote to remove Cllr Thaya Idaikkadar as leader. The motion is won, with pretty much everyone apart from ILG and a few odd-balls voting for him to go. The Mayor says a few nice words about him, and says both Cllr Susan Hall and Cllrs Barry Mcleod-Wossiname are ‘worth every penny’ before taking nominations for the new leader. As expected, Cllrs David Perry and Susan Hall get nominated and seconded.

We then roll into a round of further speeches, with Cllr Hall being described as a ‘real gem’ and Clly Perry as a ‘true leader’, before Cllr Sachin Shah gets his Labour and Conservatives mixed up. Stage fright, perhaps?

The Mayor then throws a curved ball, and in the absence of 99% of the constitution, suggests that the public be polled as well for their view for leader. Turns out it’s only a bit of fun and games, but it lightens things up. Then, we approach the second climax, the earth-moving, bed-shaking moment we’ve all been waiting for. The Vote.

ILG vote mostly for Cllr Susan Hall, which with both Labour and Conservative having an equal number in the chamber, meant it was no contest. Cllr Susan Hall was declared Leader, to obvious signs of relief.

I caught up with Cllr Thaya Idaikkadar afterwards, who is looking forward, I suspect, to a good nights sleep for a change. He’s made his name as Leader of a Council which has done things no other council has done before, as the first Sri-Lankan Council Leader (and first Sri-Lankan ex-Council Leader!) so should be proud of his achievements and his 15 minutes of fame.

So, an exciting night. Cllr Susan Hall has bitten off a big mouthful, and like the rest of the borough, we’ll be watching to see if she has big enough balls to pull this one off. Succeed, and she’s in with a good chance for next year’s elections. Mess it up, and she’ll be history. There’s a lot of work ahead of her, but since everyone else has had a chance and messed it up, we’re fairly confident she’ll kick the Council back into shape. We hear that already Caroline Bruce has been put in her place, and meetings are already scheduled at the Council Depot for Thursday morning. Hang on tight – it’s gonna be a hell of a ride.

Updated 07.24 17.09.2013 to correct some spelling and grammar mistakes

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4 comments

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  1. keith

    I note that the Costa Concordia has been re floated,

    Bit like the Council!!!!

  2. P.Lumb

    i was very fortunate to witness this abhorrent spectecale where a room full of labour & conservative ego fuelled …self rightous ..fiercly ambitious… verging on play ground antics..so called politicians who had no concern other than listening to the sound of thier own voices and then claim this was all in the intrest of the resident. if they “bigged up ” the voter as much as they did themselves or thier collegues thier tongues would be running brown constanly..gagging in fact.

    extremely sad to see..sad for ILG who clearly has shown immense potential with thier talented members..

  3. Cllr Willy Stoodley

    Thank you P.Lumb 🙂

  4. P.Lumb

    I here you brother Wille STUDD-ley!..

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