Echoes of "Animal Farm" at Tory Brentwood

October 11, 2013 4:29 PM
All animals are equal but some are more equal than others

All animals are equal but some are more equal than others

Last Friday, Brentwood's acting Conservative Leader, Cllr RogerHirst, demanded that Lib Dem Cllr Karen Chilvers be replaced as Chair of the council's Overview & Scrutiny committee. Her crime? She took an item of urgent business at her committee that led to a vote of "no confidence in the Conservative Administration" being won. In no small part, this was because many Tory committee members were not present and no senior Tory was there to defend their poor performance on their key performance indicators.

Acting Leader of the Opposition, Cllr Graeme Clark, refused and backed Karen as Scrutiny Chair. As the news spread, Brentwood First, Labour and the independent councillor all backed Cllr Chilvers as chair, admirably and gallantly refusing to put up an alternative chair, on the basis that she had done nothing to warrant this action and had chaired all meetings fairly and competently.

This would leave Cllr Hirst in a difficult position as the council's recently approved constitution says that the chair of the overview and scrutiny committee "shall be a member of the opposition" and, therefore, made Cllr Chilvers impossible to remove.

So, we have learnt that now, Cllr Hirst is aiming to change the council's constitution to put a Conservative councillor in the role. This would mean a Conservative councillor would scrutinise their own party, a situation forbidden by the current constitution.

Cllr Graeme Clark said:

"This is a dangerous move that damages the constitution. Cllr Hirst wants rid of Cllr Chilvers but has realised that the constitution stands in his way. It states that chairs are elected for the entire year unless he or she resigns. So he is now trying to change the constitution itself, without following due process .

"This is reminiscent of George Orwell's "Animal Farm" - the animals' initial constitution was that "All animals are equal" until power went to the head of Napoleon the Boar and he added "but some animals are more equal than others."

"That is exactly what Cllr Hirst plans to do on 23rd October at full council."