Before last May’s election, lots of recent converts to the Conservative Party made assurances that they would respond to individual issues on the own merits and they would not be afraid to vote against the party. Sadly, there is very little evidence of any of this maverick attitude within the council chamber.
Despite declaring a ‘Climate Emergency’ last year, Conservative leaders at South Kesteven recently imposed a whip on their councillors in order to reject a charity textiles bank initiative because it was not their idea. The decision was clearly party political.
The following SKDC councillors voted in favour of textiles recycling banks.
|Baxter (Ind)||Hansen (Ind)||Morgan (Lab)|
|Bisnauthsing (L/D)||Kelly (Ind)||Steptoe (Lab)|
|Clack (Lab)||Knowles (Ind)||Wheeler (L/D)|
|Dilks (Ind)||Milnes (Ind)||Wood (Ind)|
|Fellows (Ind)||Moran (Ind)||Total: 14|
The following SKDC councillors voted against textile recycling banks:
|Benn (Con)||Johnson (Con)||Stokes Jnr (Con)|
|Bosworth (Con)||Lee (Con)||Thomas (Con)|
|Cooke (Con)||Manterfield (Con)||Trollope-Bellew (Con)|
|Crawford (Con)||Mason (Con)||Westropp Snr (Con)|
|Dawson (Con)||Reid (Con)||Whittington (Con)|
|Dobson (Con)||Jacky Smith (Con)||L Wootten (Con)|
|Exton (Con)||Judy Smith (Con)||R Wootten (Con)|
|Griffin (Con)||Stevens (Con)||Total: 23|
Clearly, if five Conservatives had the courage to vote against the party whip, this modest, innovative, money earning venture would have been given the green light. Personally, I suspect the project will be re-invented in a few months as a Conservative idea and it will be sold as the best thing since sliced bread. That’s certainly what happened with Members Ward Budgets, the LGBT flag, the decision making process for major planning applications and the Woodland Trust Charter for Trees.
Only one Councillor abstained. Cllr Jane Kingman (Con) of Bourne decided not to vote with her party but clearly didn’t feel able to vote against the whip. Nevertheless, Cllr Kingman had an interesting meeting. Usually, she observes the vow of silence at full council meetings observed by nearly all back-bench Tories but at this meeting she had the courage actually to ask a question. The question was number 12 of 13 asked during open questions and followed two very similar questions from Independent Councillors for Bourne on the subject of the Bourne Cicle festival. In response to those, the Cabinet Member for Culture had said “that it looked like the festival would not be going ahead in 2020” and “the Council was looking at supporting Bourne to do something else”. This was news to many people who thought that, despite the considerable overspend, the Bourne Cicle Festival was a PR and community triumph which should be repeated annually.
The following Councillors went home before the vote (on textiles recycling) was taken.
|Adams (Con)||Goral (Con)||Robins (Con)|
|Bellamy (Con)||Jeal (Con)||Selby (Unaligned)|
|Broughton (Con)||Kaberry-Brown (Con)||Trotter (Con)|
|Chivers (Con)||Moseley (Con)||Woolley (Con)|
During the election, the Conservative leaflet in Deeping St James declared “local issues, local action: not party politics”. I’ll believe it when I see it!