Thursday, 26 September 2019

Order! Order!

I went to a full council meeting last night of Kettering Borough Council to support a motion relating to promoting cycling and walking in the town. I was there with my Extinction Rebellion pals, but also as someone who used to cycle, but who has been driven off my bike by two things: fear of getting mown down and lack of places to secure my bike in the town. Several members of the public spoke for the motion. (You can just turn up and do your three minutes.)

 I'd never been to a full  meeting before, and it was fascinating. For one thing, I hadn't expected it to be so formal. We all had to stand as the Mayor and her Deputy, both in full regalia, the Monitoring Officer, the Managing Director and, for some reason, a vicar, paraded in, following the mace, which was placed before them all with great ceremony.

Then we had to stay standing for what the Mayor described as 'wise words' from the Reverend Helen, followed by a prayer. I definitely wasn't expecting that! Of course, I don't know whether or not this opening speech is shared among the faith groups in the town.

Those of us in the public seating were given a fact sheet to explain proceedings and a helpful map to show who was sitting where and to which party they were affiliated. We have three Independent councillors, one LibDem, six Labour, and the rest are Tories. Our Conservative MP, Philip Hollobone, is also a councillor and I was surprised to see him there, given everything else that he must have going on at the moment. Perhaps that's why he didn't say much.

Anyway, it was a lively evening, especially the discussion around the motion. I'll spare you the details, suffice to say it was passed unanimously other than for one abstention.

Whatever you think about national politics, let's not forget how privileged we are to live in a country where we can play a role in what goes on - even if sometimes it feels as though we're being ignored.

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