by danielbarker on 5 November, 2019
Last night at Full Council was one of those nights where Walsall Council should have been able to come together across a range of subjects, with fairly non-contentious issues on the agenda. But no, it’s election season, so everything got politicised!
Okay, so Labour’s motion condemning India’s human rights abuses in Kashmir was contentious – all council groups had in advance of the meeting received a letter from the Hindu Forum attacking the motion. Labour should have done more to get cross-party agreement before the meeting, and making it a ‘named vote’ was the wrong thing to do, as this is a device for shaming councillors who ‘vote the wrong way’. Ultimately, after hearing the debate, I agreed with Labour’s motion, but how could there be ‘shame’ in voting against it? We are local councillors and this was an international issue on which we hadn’t got any information apart from what we received from other councillors. The issue shouldn’t have been politicised, but it was.
Next came our motion calling for a ‘review of all roads with a view to reducing the need for grass cutting wherever possible and areas seeded with wildflowers subject to the maintenance of satisfactory sight lines for drivers and pedestrians.’ Rather than accept this as a good idea, the Tories decided to table an amendment which was similar, but narrowed it down to just 2 roads across the whole of the Borough, and referred to a plan to do this made by the portfolio holder back in June. Did you know about this plan? Did anyone? This highlights the problem with the Tory administration running Walsall Council at the moment; everything is done behind closed doors. Even elected councillors are not told what is going on, so how on Earth does the average resident know what it going on? At least our motion brought the issue out into the open.
Finally there came a motion on Period Poverty – which could easily have won agreement from all councillors – except it was worded in a way which patted the Conservative Government on the back – not a smart thing to do if you want cross-party agreement in the middle of a general election! Labour therefore fielded an amendment which sought to share the credit (for the scheme to provide free sanitary products) with a young girl and the Union movement. The Tories refused to back this, so once again a non-contentious issue became a political one.
Nice work Walsall Council, you really know how to bring people together!
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