Thursday, October 8, 2009

Need to “get it off my chest...” rant.

Although there are times when it must seem like I am always awake, I sometimes do try to sleep at normal times. On the whole this is successful, however on occasions I tend to find myself lying awake with a million and one thoughts running through my head and watching the clock tick slowly by. Maybe it is because I have an overactive imagination or just way too much on my mind, whatever the case I find that on many occasions I am left sat there trying to pass the time by without disturbing others or making a nuisance of myself.

So then, on a day when I seemingly want to sleep but nothing will let me; I find myself sat writing this blog at half four in the morning. In my head I know I need to get all this off my chest and say what I should have done long before now, however my heart is telling me that at nearly five in the morning it could be a bad time to do this! Of course I know my heart is correct, but my head knows this will not stop me! Sorry in advance for any misunderstandings or spelling errors etc. I am normally rubbish at spelling anyways!

Firstly I must explain that this blog is aimed towards my Councillor friends/acquaintances whatever, especially Councillor Clarke, Councillor Woods and Alderman Dickie. It might be a little boring reading for my other friends, but I suggest reading if only to see me finally speak up or; which is more likely the case screw up! And in case anyone asks why I could not speak to them face to face, I have tried on more than one occasion.

Of course this is all over what the press have dubbed “Astragate” and the hearing I spent eight hours sat through on Tuesday. Most people will know I am a card carrying Lib Dem member, having said that I have time for all members of the council. I know Councillor Clarke through the football, and John Dickie through him; I hope I can class both gentlemen as friends. Throughout all my time going to council meetings and what have you, I have tried to keep my friendships and politics separate. As with all my life, I try to see everyone’s point of view and not be swayed by friendships or emotions.

The first time I had any dealings with Councillor Woods, was the public meeting held in The Great Hall of our Guildhall. It was called by the supports trust (of the football club) and others, if I am right in thinking it was the market stallholders association and the fish market arts council. Councillor Woods and his colleagues chose not to officially attend the meeting, which he was within his right as a leader of the council to do. I am not about to be drawn into if that was the right choice or not, but of course I have my own view.

Like I say, I try very hard not to pass judgement on people until I have met them and can make my own mind up for myself. But of course not everyone thinks the same way as I do, there was (and is) clearly more than a few people who are more than willing to pass judgement over Mr. Woods and their feelings towards him; not only as a Councillor or leader of the NBC but also as a person too.

I am sure he has heard it all before and it is probably something he has had to learn how to deal with, although I am not too sure after Tuesday’s meeting! I am not sure if it bothers him or not, I have heard from some of his colleagues that it does. If it does not, then Mr. Woods; it should. You should have been worried about it, and in all honesty you should still be worried about it. Had I listened to what other people said, I would not have joined the party; and I would never have spoken to Mr. Woods.

I am glad I joined the party, for me it was the right choice to make; at that time! I have met some interesting people and some I hope I can class as friends too... in my humble opinion I think that much of the work the council have done has been good, and I believe they are trying to take this town in the right direction. Many of their Councillors work extremely hard, and do not always get the praise they should.

When all this “kicked off” I had not been with the party long, and none of it had or has anything to do with me being a member. I was quiet happy to just let everyone in fight and attack everyone else, had it stayed a political matter then I dare say I would not have cared so much. But of course it could never have stayed that, when in reality politics and personality are seemingly now always linked.

It seems to be that any little thing someone can find to attack you with, anyone and everyone will do so; sometimes for little or no political gain. If this is how it is now, why would anyone want to actually become a Councillor? Why would anyone put themselves willingly through all that? Why can it not be about if a person can actually do the job they are given/asked to do?

Does it really matter if someone has tattoos and has gotten in with the “wrong crowd” when they were a young lad? Surely if they have learnt their lessons and paid their debt to society, they can have a hugely positive and influential input into life and council? Does everyone have to be the same to do a good job? Each of us are human beings, we all have flaws and none of us are perfect. We all make mistakes and get things wrong; surely being human (in whatever way we feel comfortable) is not a bad thing to be in politics?

The moment this all began to turn into an attack on Councillor Woods personality, was the moment I decided to make a stand and speak up. I do not know Mr. Woods well, we have spoken rarely and I would not class us as friends. (Nor do I think we ever will be) The times we have spoken he has been a gentleman and polite, and on the one occasion we have sat together having a drink (which I paid for, before anyone starts on me for costing the tax payer anything!) after a meeting, he was funny, kind and easier to talk to than I imagined.

The general public opinion is that he is an arrogant, stubborn, self centred, cold and unemotional bully. While I admit that he is incredibly hard to approach and talk to, I am not sure he deserves such a stream of abusive labels; even after his reaction to the hearing Tuesday. In my opinion (and from speaking to other Lib Dem Councillors) there does seem more to Mr. Woods than meets the eye, maybe he just does not feel comfortable enough with others to show that side of him... one Councillor (who shall not be named, but sat with me for much of Tuesday’s meeting) commented that not everyone wears their heart on their sleeves.

And I do have to agree, not everyone can be emotionally open. Not everyone can walk into a room and comfortably “work the room” as it were, I am not sure even I could do that; and most people will know I am comfortable with my emotional openness. Now some people will say that if this is the case, then maybe Mr. Woods should not be in office. And I can understand that, if you are in a public position; surely you should be willing and open to being approached.

However, it goes back to my earlier comments doesn’t it; does it matter that someone is shy if they are actually good at the job? And like I said, in my own opinion he is a good leader and has been doing an alright job. When my two friends, Councillor Clarke and John Dickie began to attack Councillor Woods personality; I felt I had to defend Mr. Woods. I am sure he is able to do so himself, but I wanted to make a point.

One of Councillor Woods’s problems was that Alderman Dickie was making the matter more political than needed to be; and in all honesty I do agree. I hope John knows I mean no offence but surely he can see the points raised by Mr. Woods? If it was not for both John and Ian Watts complaints; this matter would not have been thrown into the spotlight as it were and would (more than likely) have been sorted out... with little or no financial cost to the tax payer.

Does anyone know just how much this all has cost us taxpayers? When, in truth it all could have been dealt with “in house” as it were. In my opinion, it is a waste of money that could have been spent elsewhere; as well as a waste of time on something a trivia as a bloody car! To make my point, I will direct Mr. Dickie and Councillor Clarke to their blogs and indeed the facebook page I made a few months back... Free The Castle Ward Two! Surely they both can, and must understand what it means to waste the time and money of us taxpayers?

In my life there are far greater things for me to worry about than why and how long Councillor Woods parked his car, which was in his own space and in a car park not accessible to the general public! And to be honest, I could not care less if he is open and easy to approach; as long as he is doing the job he was asked to do (which; like I have said I think he is) and does not go around killing babies etc. I personally, am more worried about if my Mum’s arm will be alright; Dad’s hands will be fixed soon and if my Nan will be any more gar gar by the time I next go down to visit her! And unlike most people; I cannot blame Tony Woods for any of that... unless he can fix it, then he is more than welcome to try!

Again in my opinion, while he was silly to have left his car for so long; there are much more important things in life to worry about. Yes, it was daft; yes, he was stubborn to not take action sooner. I understand (from the Councillor who sat with me) that there were underlying facts to this, that Mr. Woods himself did not want made public. I can understand this, but regardless of the facts it was just a flipping car! Yes he probably should have moved it sooner, and yes he probably should have apologised sooner. It would have been fixed sooner and easier, and without the expense to the taxpayer!

I think Mr. Woods is and was foolish to leave the car for as long as he did, I think Mr. Dickie and Mr. Watts should have spoken to Mr. Woods directly or left well alone; it clearly made matters much worse. However, now that we have had this hearing and Mr. Woods received his punishment; I feel that Mr. Woods was again foolish to have reacted the way he did. Maybe he still feels like he has done nothing wrong and I am in no position to question that. What I do question however is Councillor Woods’s reaction to the verdict, which in fairness could have been much worse!

As all this played out I was convinced Mr. Woods would receive a harsher sanction than he actually did, as did most people who have been watching this all unfold. I know more people than not who wanted his head on a plate, and would not settle until they got him hanging from the nearest lamppost. To be asked to write a letter of apology was, in my view a very light punishment. In my view, Mr. Woods should have accepted this fate and moved on, had he have done so; in my view his resignation would not have been called for and he would have been safe for a little while.

Again, in my view; for Mr. Woods to storm out after the meeting was political suicide and in my view gave his opponents all the ammunition they needed to stick the knife in! Now they have seemingly what they wanted and Mr. Woods has said he will go at the end of the month, whatever his reasons and whatever he thinks of me personally; I do genuinely wish him well. The man I sat having a drink with was interesting, funny and someone I would have loved to got to know better; he is also the only man that could have helped me with my German!

Whoever takes Mr. Woods place, will no doubt have their work cut out for them. If they can turn things around or not, only time will tell. Only time will if the administration as a whole can turn the fortunes of this town around, I hope they get the chance to try; though with everything as it has been I am not sure this will happen. As for me, I am clinging on with one fingernail to something I am no longer sure of. I always said I would give my membership a year, I have yet to count the months or days until I can cancel it... give it time though!!


Tony Clarke said...


You have a heart of gold, and don't ever change.

I have said my piece on this on my blog but for me the car was never the issue. Leading the Council is about having the character and discipline to do so.

By his actions and reactions to this whole affair TW proved himself that he was not up to the task.

You cannot pick and choose which meetings to attend and you cannot put yourself above those you choose to serve.

TW will recover and be stronger for it. We have all suffered knock backs in our time, its learning from them that counts.

Finally you may be surprised to hear that on a 1-1 basis I have always goy on with Tony and have shared a drink or two with him as well, he is too reserved and over serious at times but hopefully now thye pressure of office has gone he will be more like himself.

thestjohnlady1 said...

As long as you and me are mates, and I can get a hug when we see each other; that is just fine with me!!!

And thank you, I will always try to be me!!

Thank you for the compliment too!