09:21AM, Wednesday 22 June 2022
A bizarre start to an overview and scrutiny panel saw a vice-chairman elected immediately after he lost a vote to be elected on Tuesday night.
Cllr Jon Davey (Ind, Clewer and Dedworth West) was elected vice-chairman for that evening’s proceedings after an agonising argument at the newly created committee.
As it was the first meeting of the place overview and scrutiny panel, councillors were required to nominate a chair and vice-chair for the remainder of the municipal year.
With only ten of the 11 panel members present, votes for Cllrs Davey and John Bowden (Con, Eton & Castle) were both defeated with both receiving five votes for and against along party lines.
Cllr John Baldwin (Lib Dem, Belmont) suggested Cllr Sayonara Luxton (Con, Sunningdale & Cheapside) be appointed as a temporary measure in the absence of all members.
However, this was overruled by clerk of the panel Oran Norris-Browne because Cllr Luxton is already chair of the people O&S panel.
Eventually, with the meeting facing adjournment, all members present agreed to appoint Cllr Bowden as chair for the meeting, with a fresh election for the next meeting later in the year.
Despite Cllr Bowden’s chairmanship only being required for the one substantive agenda item before the next meeting – excluding formalities such as the minutes, declarations of interest and work programme – the panel were still required to elect a vice-chair, leading to a bemused Cllr Baldwin to ask the chair: “How’s your health, John? Do you think you can stand up to an hour and a half?”
After the clerk confirmed on multiple occasions that the appointment of vice-chair would only be for that evening’s meeting, Cllr Davey was nominated by Cllr Baldwin.
Nevertheless, Cllr Davey was defeated with all five Conservative councillors voting against his nomination.
“You lot are pathetic,” said Cllr Davey.
When challenged by Cllr Bowden, the independent councillor added: “I’m just saying that the behaviour here demonstrates the Conservatives’ approach to politics.”
Whilst panel members faced the prospect of an adjournment for the second time in five minutes, Cllr Luxton was seen discussing with party colleagues Gurpreet Bhangra (Boyn Hill) and Shamsul Shelim (Eton & Castle).
Returning to her seat, Cllr Luxton said they were ‘happy with somebody [from the opposition] being a vice-chair for this particular meeting’, prompting Cllr Baldwin to respond: “You weren’t ten seconds ago.”
Eventually, much to the relief of all in the room and watching via YouTube, Cllr Davey was elected unanimously, although he was not required to step in at any time during the 97-minute meeting.
An independent report into a Conservative councillor has found a breach of the Royal Borough’s code of conduct in a document seen by the Advertiser.