Central Beds Council leader takes jab at Stotfold and Langford councillor's attendance record

Leader of the council Richard Wenham said he was 'surprised that she actually knows where the chamber is'

By John Guinn, Local Democracy Reporter
Friday, 14th January 2022, 3:39 pm
Updated Friday, 14th January 2022, 3:40 pm
Leader of the council Richard Wenham took a swipe at councillor Nicola Harris
Leader of the council Richard Wenham took a swipe at councillor Nicola Harris

The leader of Central Bedfordshire Council said it was "interesting" that a councillor had raised the question of evening meetings, as he was "surprised" that she knew were the chamber was.

The executive member for sustainability and transformation, councillor Steven Dixon (Conservative, Stotfold and Langford Ward) presented a draft meeting calendar for 2022/23 to last night's (Thursday, January 13) full meeting.

Starting the debate on the calendar, councillor Nicola Harris (Independent, Stotfold and Langford Ward) asked: "I just wanted to know why there's not more of a mix of evening meetings for members that work full-time to attend."

Councillor Dixon replied: "I take on-board your point about the daytime and the evening

"But there are a great many events that take place [in the evenings], last night there was one on the tree planting grant."

Councillor John Baker (Independent, Aspley and Woburn Ward) wondered when the ruling Conservative members would be willing to discuss holding some evening meetings.

"So we can engage with the public to a greater degree," he said.

Council leader, councillor Richard Wenham (Conservative, Arlesey), said: "Well, we have the perennial old chestnut of evening meetings which councillor Zerny raised, I think at the end of the last term, and was debated at length.

"Of course, there are many costs and other things involved with those meetings.

"But it's interesting that the member for Fairfield [sic] has raised this question, given I'm surprised that she actually knows where the chamber is, given her attendance record over the past couple of years.

"Perhaps, you know, she might be able to attend a little bit more in the future," he added.

Councillor Harris, who was elected as a Conservative in 2019 before becoming an Independent last year, tried to explain her situation.

"Chairman, I would like to come back on that, I am a vulnerable person, I was shielding for two years," she said.

But the chairman, councillor Brian Saunders (Conservative, Stotfold and Langford Ward) said: "Councillor Harris, you have spoken, thank you."

Independent group leader, councillor Adam Zerny (Potton Ward) responded to councillor Wenham points.

"Firstly, I would add that it was actually councillor Smith who brought forward that motion, and not me.

"Much as I agreed with every word that Mark Smith put forward.

"Secondly, I thought those last comments were unnecessary and uncalled for.

"I think an apology would really be in order there," he said.