Friday, 29 January 2010

A busy month ahead for Brighton Council's standards watchdog?

I almost feel sorry for the local Standards Committee, the body charged with making sure all Brighton and Hove councillors behave according the Code of Conduct laying down the rules for how we must behave towards each other.

A few weeks back they visited all the political groups represented on the council to plead for less frivolous complaints. Their workload, they said, was getting clogged up with councillors' complaints against each other - they were being used, as I understood their point - as a political football.

Really, they exist to weed out corruption and unlawful behaviour. If a Tory councillor, for example, made dodgy backroom deal to sell off some Council-owned land for development - or took a backhander to nod through a planning aplication - the Standards Board would want to get to the bottom of it.

But after a particularly firey Council meeting last night I imagine they'll have their work cut out dealing with all the name calling from all sides.

When the archived webcast becomes publicly available I'll post some of the highlights here - meanwhile I'll just observe that the Code of Conduct doesn't require that we are all nice to each other all the time, so when councillors call each other dogs, idiots, fascists, hate-mongers, anarchists, communists, or kleptomaniancs - all names bandied around during last night's meeting - it shouldn't really be the concern of the Standard Committee at all. We're all big enough and ugly enough to look after ourselves! Perhaps that's why the new Chief Executive - John 'Axeman' Barraddell - looked so relaxed about the whole thing.

Of course most city residents just want their council to get on with the job of running the city - so I'm delighted we were able to do a bit of that too!

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