Tories sack Scrutiny Chair Cllr Karen Chilvers for scrutinising their administration

October 27, 2013 5:03 PM
Karen in defence mode

Cllr Karen Chilvers: "I was scrutinising in the name of Brentwood residents and you are failing them"

In a sustained, vindictive and personal attack, Brentwood Conservatives finally saw the last shred of democracy out of the door of the council chamber on Wednesday night when they spent almost two hours punishing the Chair of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee for highlighting their faillings and taking a vote of no confidence in their beleaguered and unpopular administration.

A quite horrible meeting saw the Tories use their majority and bullying tactics to remove Cllr Chilvers as chair as payback for her decision to take a vote of no confidence in the administration when 18 out of 21 of their members failed to turn up to her meeting to answer questions over the fact that they had failed to meet 11/18 Quarterly Key Performance Indicators.

So far, no answers have been given to the residents of Brentwood as to why they weren't there to defend the administration or the actions they are putting in place to improve their performance. Instead, in a mighty deflection tactic, they chose to criticise Cllr Chilvers for not personally inviting them all to the meeting although all councillors are able to attend any meeting of the council and, indeed, should when their areas of responsibility or ward are on the agenda.

The Conservatives formed an orderly queue to criticise or insult Cllr Chilvers (leaning heavily on a stick due to a recent accident) with Cllr Jan Pound screaming that she was "incompetent" and Cllr Keith Parker saying his respect for her was non-existent.

By contrast, all members of the opposition defended her vigorously:

"This is a sour grapes motion…..Frank Spencer politics at its very worst" - Cllr Phil Baker, Brentwood First

"In my twenty years on the council I have never seen such a petty vindictive and nasty motion put forward" - Cllr David Kendall, Liberal Democrats

"This should be withdrawn, we don't need this type of motion" - Cllr David Kendall, Liberal Democrats

"….she is totally even-handed, absolutely professional, exhibits fairness throughout the committee and is an example….how to chair a meeting when you are not part of the administration." - Cllr Barry Aspinell, Liberal Democrats Leader

"You've been embarrassed because you didn't turn up to a meeting you should have been at, you're embarrassed because the performance indicators were terrible and you had no one there to defend them…" - Cllr Barry Aspinell, Liberal Democrats Leader

"This is a nasty, childish and spiteful motion." - Cllr Mike Le Surf, Labour Leader

"Cllr Hirst, this says far more about you than it does about Cllr Chilvers" - Cllr Graeme Clark, Liberal Democrats Deputy Leader

"The administration failed to provide any legal assistance to Cllr Chilvers on the night" - Cllr James Sapwell, Liberal Democrats

"I can't believe what I am hearing in this chamber tonight and cannot think of another public forum where an individual would be put through what Cllr Chilvers has been put through tonight. I think it is vindictive and there are elements of bullying…" - Cllr Vicky Davies, Liberal Democrat

"The only sin that Cllr Chilvers has committed is holding the administration to account" - Cllr Vicky Davies, Liberal Democrat

Other bizarre occurrences include the Mayor agreeing to move the item earlier on the agenda ONLY on the proviso that Cllr Chilvers left straight after without exercising her right to speak on other items on the agenda and the only independent voice who was at the meeting, a senior officer, was prevented from speaking and then, finally, the conservatives changed the entire constitution of the council to put a Conservative in as O&S chair, meaning they are now scrutinising themselves.

Watch Cllr Chilvers explain why she took the vote of no confidence at her committee on 18th September 2013:

Watch the debate: