Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Warring Harborough Tories reduce the council to a farce

In November 2012 Michael Rook, leader of the ruling Conservative group on Harborough District Council, sacked his deputy Blake Pain.

By June 2013 Blake Pain had become leader of the group, and he got his revenge by suspending Michael Rook.

The result, though this Harborough Mail report is almost impenetrable, appears to be that the Tory group is split into warring factions:
A review into the decision by Harborough Council to replace a major planning document just a year after its adoption will go ahead after a group of councillors withdrew their objections to it. 
Former council leader Mike Rook and fellow Conservative councillors Grahame Spendlove-Mason and Colin Golding had called-in the decision by the authority’s new leadership to launch the review. 
It meant the matter was to be discussed at a scrutiny meeting this week, but it was revealed at Monday’s full council meeting that they had withdrawn their call-in. 
However councillors branded the call-in process farcical this week after it emerged the scrutiny meeting still had to take place before the review could be recommissioned. 
Held at The Three Swans Hotel last night (Tuesday) it lasted just two minutes as councillors decided the review should go ahead as originally decided.
What I think is behind this is a disagreement within the Conservatives over where to build new houses in the district. A group of rural Tories, led by Michael Rooks, wants to protect there own patches by cramming as many houses into Market Harborough. And another group, led by Blake Pain, wants to spread them more evenly across the district.

But unless you are an experienced kremlinologist, your guess is probably no better than mine.

Let us close with the robust good sense of the Lib Dem group leader Phil Knowles, again from the Harborough Mail:
“I now await the outcome of the investigation [into the Local Plan decision] and hope to see the resulting report made public and available but there are other questions that need to be addressed internally after tonight. 
“We need to look at the processes and protocols, to see why no stop mechanism is available. Secondly and importantly we need to know just how much all of this has cost. 
“I fully support the call-in mechanism - it is in the constitution. When the signatories decided to put this call-in forward they started a process that resulted in considerable amounts of officer time, the cost of legal advice being sought and much more culminating in the calling of a Special Scrutiny Panel Meeting. 
“When the signatories then decided for what ever reason to withdraw their signatures the cost did not stop, the process continued and we ended up with a specially convened Scrutiny Meeting lasting all of two minutes. I have already advised the officers that I will be seeking the information about just how much all of this has cost.”

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