09:27AM, Thursday 12 November 2020
Tempers ran high at the meeting of the communities overview and scrutiny panel on Tuesday, ending in accusations of poor chairmanship and a promise to lodge a formal complaint.
The panel meeting, which discussed the borough's new environmental crime officers, sank into testy exchanges between councillors right from the beginning.
Councillor Jon Davey (WWRA, Clewer & Dedworth West) asked whether councillors could confirm if they had been ‘whipped’ into supporting a particular party line on the subject of environmental officers.
Councillor Cannon, lead member public protection and parking, challenged Cllr Davey, which prompted a fiery exchange between the two.
This led to the chair, Councillor John Bowden (Con, Eton and Castle), reproaching Cllr Davey for continuously interrupting.
Councillor John Baldwin (Lib Dem, Belmont) jumped to Cllr Davey’s defence, declaring that his wish to enquire about whips was ‘perfectly constitutional’.
Cllr Bowden took Cllr Baldwin’s words as a criticism of his chairmanship, though Cllr Baldwin swiftly denied this.
The ensuing overlap in talking compelled attending officers to remind the councillors of the need for order.
Cllr Bowden requested that Cllr Baldwin be muted by the host of the Zoom meeting.
Near the end, Cllr Baldwin was passed over to speak because of his previous ‘disruptive’ behaviour.
Cllr Baldwin attempted to bring up a point of order, but Cllr Bowden denied him this opportunity.
“You are required to take a point of order immediately. This is unconstitutional,” said Cllr Baldwin.
However, Cllr Bowden went ahead and requested that Cllr Baldwin be muted once again.
“Fantastic, silence your critics,” said Cllr Baldwin, shortly before being cut off.
“This is really childish,” objected Councillor Neil Knowles (OWRA, Old Windsor) to the chair. “You should deal with this now, he has a right to speak.”
The meeting nonetheless continued – though the next speaker, Councillor Gurch Singh (Lib Dem, St Mary's), was uncertain if it was acceptable to speak, given a point of order was raised.
Several minutes later the meeting was paused while an officer sought advice on the issue.
It was determined that Cllr Baldwin should be heard.
"I'm not going to thank you," said Cllr Baldwin to Cllr Bowden when he was given the floor. “Your chairmanship is nothing short of a disgrace.
"I'm going to reserve my point of order and reserve my comments for the monitoring officer in the morning. I'm done for the night."
This incident follows a previous clash between Cllr Baldwin and Cllr Cannon over a parking strategy that was deferred at last month’s cabinet meeting, where Cllr Cannon accused the Liberal Democrat group of playing ‘petty party politics.’
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