Last week there was a meeting on the Development Committee which I attend to represent local residents. Labour Councillors on the Development Committee delayed the start of the meeting, eating sandwiches and drinking tea whilst members of the public sat there waiting. The grub for councillors costs £15k per year, and the Conservative alternative budget this year that I put forward would have stopped it.
An officer gave an excuse that members were delayed getting to the town hall, inferring it was because of the G20 protests that day. All the members needed for the committee were in the building, including the chairman who had been in the building for at least 40 minutes.
I led some members of the public from the public gallery into the adjoining room where Labour councillors were eating and drinking tea. A number of them scuttled out looking very embarrassed. However the Labour Committee chairman, who is paid an £8,000 special responsibility allowance on top of his councillors allowance then disappeared for a further 10 minutes. The Labour councillors, too busy feeding to take up their committee seats refused to start the meeting until the chair finally arrived.
It may just be a coincidence, but the only person who was running late was an applicant, who was putting his third application to get change of use on a retail shop into a fast food takeaway on Cable Street in Shadwell (first application was rejected by the committee, 2nd application was recommended for refusal by officers but passed by members anyway and then quashed by judicial review).
The committee passed the application again on Wednesday. The final irony is that the Labour PPC for Bethnal Green & Bow has pledged to work with Tower Hamlets to stop fast food joints being given planning permission within 400m of schools. This retail unit has four schools within such a distance and was objected to by the Police on grounds of ASB and traffic problems!
No Lib Dems could be bothered to turn up to sit on the committee and only Conservative councillors spoke on behalf of local residents.