Since re-joining Crawley council I have been to a stupid amount of meetings, briefings and seminars. I think I had 8 different meetings last week. In a lot of those I have noticed something that I don’t think was always the case, although I may be mistaken – it was a long time ago – a tendency for the Labour and Tory members to segregate themselves in meetings.
The only exception was an overview & scrutiny meeting I went along to as an observer. The next meeting I went after that was a development control meeting. The officers had put name plates around the table in a fairly random fashion so I just sat where my name was. At this point the leader of the Tories asked if I minded moving so he could have all of his group together. I didn’t mind. I don’t care where I’m sitting, but I thought it was a bit odd, given that these meetings are supposed to be totally non-party-political and act in a quasi-judicial capacity.
Since then all the meetings have seen the Tories arrange themselves along one side of the table and Labour along the opposite side, and it now seems to just happen automatically.
The irony of all this is that in the last full council meeting it was the same Tory group leader who accused Labour of ‘politicising the council’. The council, of course, is a political body full of politicians so is already about as politicised as you can get to start with, but development control is supposed to be non-political in the party sense, with whipping and predetermination being completely against the constitution so why was the opponent of politicising so keen to politicise it?
Not that I am particularly bothered by it. Just mildly amused.