Kendall: Tories are forgetting there is a council to run

September 17, 2011 3:52 PM

Cllr David Kendall, Prospective Parliamentary CandidateOver the last few weeks I am sure many residents will have been bemused to see the local Conservative party tearing itself apart and councillors Louise McKinlay and Russell Quirk slugging it out across the pages of the Brentwood Gazette with claims and counter claims. The bitterness and animosity has been there for all to see and there appears to be no end in sight.

It seems that whatever the odds stacked against her Cllr McKinlay is determined to try and hang on as Leader of a Conservative group that is deeply divided and at the same time continue being Leader of the Borough Council. While this sorry saga has been going on the local Conservatives seem to have almost forgotten that Brentwood still has a Council to run and that the Borough faces many serious issues that need to be addressed.

I am very concerned that the Tory in-fighting is having a serious effect on the running of the Council, the morale of staff and how Brentwood is perceived by other Council's across Essex. The root cause of much of this unrest has been around the future of the Town Hall and the recent vote by eleven Tory rebels against the Leaders motion in July. As Leader of the Opposition I have not been impressed at all with Cllr McKinlay's handling of the Town Hall issue. If she had listened to early Lib Dem calls for more detailed costings on renovation and refurbishment it may well have saved the Council a lot of time and money. Sadly she chose to go on a different path and after spending £175,000 on consultants, losing the Town Hall vote and having major differences within her group we now find ourselves in the current situation.

The day after losing the Town Hall vote, Cllr McKinlay announced she was setting up a Town Hall Delivery Group with the task of trying to deliver the motion to save the building and retain it as the seat of local government in Brentwood. However the group's second meeting planned for 31st August was mysteriously cancelled by the Leader on officer advice five hours before it was due to begin. We now understand that the next meeting of the Town Hall Delivery Group will be on Monday 26th September. This will mean nearly a four week delay putting the process further back and wasting precious time and money.

Why was the meeting cancelled? Surprise surprise, there has been no announcement but the Lib Dems believe Brentwood residents deserve better. Going forward the Lib Dems have no particular interest in who is the Leader of the Conservative group but we do have a big interest in how the Borough Council operates and the quality of services it offers our residents.

Brentwood Town Hall - opened in 1957In recent weeks it is quite obvious the Tory group have taken their eye off the ball and lost their focus on the issues facing our town. Just the other week only three Conservative members out of 28 bothered to turn up to an important officer presentation on the Traveller issue at Dale Farm. That would never have happened in the past.

At present the Tory group resembles a bunch of ferrets fighting in a sack with one of them coming up for air every now and again to make a comment to the press. Whilst at times it's almost been comical to watch for the sake of Brentwood's residents they need to get their differences resolved and get back to doing what they were elected to do which is to speak up and get things done for the residents who elected them.

Which is what the Liberal Democrats have been doing whilst the Tories have been fighting amongst themselves.

Cllr David Kendall

Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group

Brentwood Borough Counci