Friday, June 15, 2007

The O2 Rebels?

3 vs 02: Janet Gillman; Mick Hayes; Danny Thorpe

What's this? A hint of dissent in the People's Rebublic of Greenwichgrad? It has been reported this week that the Council's Cabinet waved through a scandalous proposal to spend £95,000 a year of taxpayers' money on hiring a corporate box at the O2 to use for Council Hospitality.

I'm all for a bit of hospitality, but when budget cuts are being made and the Council's staff are laying siege to the Town Hall (I and others had a very rough time getting through the angry jeering crowd on Wednesday to attend full Council), this seems an indefensible slap in the face. My colleague, Conservative leader Spencer Drury, made this point in the press this week, and I also raised it at council.

Now it seems that even some Labour Councillors are uncomfortable with how it looks, and have broken ranks to "call in" the decision for review by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee next week. This was something we were considering doing ourselves, having been unconvinced by the justification offered by the Labour Deputy Leader Peter Brookes on Wednesday, but for once we were beaten to it by Comrade Roberts' own usually-obedient troops.
The three Labour members are all Chairs of Scrutiny panels, paid positions they have been effectively appointed to by the Labour leadership, so their action is all the more surprising - and brave. The meeting is set for Monday night- and as a Member of Overview and Scrutiny I will be there to see it for myself. I hope they hold their nerve and have this ill-conceived proposal reversed.

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