I was about to blog about something fun when this came up.
A few weeks ago a local councillor down here in Brighton was suspended from Brighton & Hove Council. What he’d ‘done wrong’ was this: the council runs a live video feed of council meetings online, so you can watch what’s going on; see who is throwing the biscuits. Green Party councillor Jason Kitcat had gone back through the previously aired footage and put up on YouTube a couple of short bits that were relevent to something he was writing about.
Tory councillor Ted Kemble made a complaint about this and Clr. Kitcat was suspended. I didn’t even know that was possible – since he’s an elected councillor – but it is.
Anyway I knew Clr. Kitcat had got suspended but I’d assumed that because it was a while ago, he’d gone back by now, maybe resumed his seat with a slap on the wrist or something. But it turns out the opposite is true: Conservative councillors are taking legal action against him. And they are using public money to fund a private legal counsel INSTEAD of using the freely available Council Solicitor. Quite apart from how trivial the supposed offence was, as well as how it stinks of at the least politicking and at worst bullying of Clr. Kitcat, this is OUR MONEY. And there ISN’T MUCH TO GO AROUND right now.
Here’s the email I just wrote them. If you’re in Brighton or Hove, maybe write one of your own, or phone them or go see them? The details you need are:
Ted Kemble (Con) email@example.com
phone: 01273 291166
surgery: Fourth Saturday of each month 9.30am
Hove and Portslade Conservative Association, 66A Boundary Road, Hove
Mary Mears (Con, leader of the council) firstname.lastname@example.org
phone: 01273 294370
surgery: Third Tuesday of each month 6pm
Round Room, Whiteway Centre, Whiteway Lane, Rottingdean
Clr. Kemble, I hope you are well.Why are you using public money to fund your legal pursuit of Clr. Kitcat?Is it true that you are spending our money on a private counsel when you could use a Council solicitor?If so, why?This is a despicable waste of our money at a time when we can ill afford it. Regardless of whether your pursuit of Mr Kitcat has any basis or not, it is an utterly trivial issue that should have been sorted out with one polite conversation. It is both childish and irresponsible to be behaving this way – you do not deserve to represent us.Mr Kemble and Ms Mears, are you politicking bullies, or honourable stewards? Because right now our city – like everywhere in the UK – needs the latter and the former should GET OUT of public office. You are here to serve us, not spend our money on schoolboy vendettas.Learn to disagree responsibly.I look forward to your response and possibly meeting in the future to discuss this matter further.