17 December 2008

Shut up Brian!

Meetings of Somerton's Town Council are rarely uplifting and last evening's meeting ran true to form. As usual, the Council members outnumbered the audience by close to 2:1 and, quite obviously, the Town Council don't get the significance of this high level of disinterest. But as a vote of confidence it certainly isn't resounding.

But dear God, what a dreary meeting. Councillors drone on and on and on about damn all and they pepper their exchanges with snide jibes at Council workers. If you believed this bunch, the only people in South Somerset District who work hard are Somerton's Town Councillors, and mainly because they tell you often and loudly. And if you believed them you'd believe that staffers from South Somerset District Council and Somerset County Council had, as their single highest priority, the objective to obstruct Somerton Town Council in everything they do. I do wonder why these individuals behave this way. Does it make them feel better to slag-off others? Maybe its a defence mechanism to deflect attention from their own shortcomings. I'd guess the latter but, whatever the case, it sets a very low tone and underscores just how unprofessional this group of councillors are.

The meeting itself was more of the usual where most items under discussion had clearly been decided in advance and away from the meeting. Thus the only point of the meeting was to either rubber stamp those earlier decisions or to discuss complete inconsequentialities. As examples, we were entertained to: an extended rant about the value of crockery in the parish rooms; a 10 minute ramble through the matter of public loos, the main point of which seemed to be to give Tony Canvin and Paddy Keenan another chance to slag off the District Council and there was also an extended discussion about the state of the bins in Somerton and this brought with it more bitching about District or County staffers. Utterly hopeless.

But I must admit that Cllr Neale got my attention with his interesting contribution around 07:58pm, under the Finance item, when he saw fit to express his support for the £5,000 ceiling before expenditure required a tender. He made the comment with reference to current expenditure on the Tin Dunny (aka Unit 8 Carey Court) and I did wonder what his point was. I wondered if Cllr Neale was as cavalier with his own money as he seems to be with the public's.

But that wasn't the real star of the meeting. At about 09:02pm, some 92 minutes into the meeting, one of the councillors embarked on an interesting question addressed to the Chair. Referring to the vexed question of what might or might not happen to the Parish Rooms, Brian Raybould started off on a statement which went roughly along the lines of, "Chair, if you divide 99 into ..............." and before he could go any further Paddy Keenan leapt in and muzzled Brian with a warning look and an admonishment, "Don't go into that.....".

Now, what was Brian going to get into that stirred Paddy into such a burst of dynamic action? Well, Brian was about to say something along the lines of, "If you divide 99 into the amount of money we are being offered by the Church for a 99 year lease on the Parish rooms, you'll see that we will be getting £XXXX per year." So why did Paddy not want Brian to talk about that? The answer is simple. The Precept isn't Somerton Town Council's only source of funding. Renting out the Parish Rooms will become another revenue stream that the Town Council can spend without reference to the ratepayers and taxpayers of Somerton. As long as no-one knows about it. Hence Brian being muzzled. Well done Paddy, you almost got away with it.

This made me consider what other revenue streams Somerton Town Council has access to and what Somerton Town Council's real budget is. I doubt that the Town Council will tell me but someone must know.............oh yes, and as an after-thought, who owns the land that the Town Council is buying for use as allotments? The usual fiver is available for accurate information.

And as a counter to the rather tawdry events of last evening the image below was made on the edge of the Parret towards Muchelney Pumping Station, earlier this evening.

Goodnight and may your God go with you.