A game of Tug of War with Suffolk in the middle? While other elections go on, Suffolk’s county Conservatives quietly continue to tear themselves asunder…
A couple of weeks ago came the news that Conservative councillor for Hadleigh, Brian Riley, planned to continue holding his seat as county councillor (and drawing his councillor’s allowance) from North Carolina. This was particularly galling to the Lib Dems as the Hadleigh seat had been occupied – and occupied well- for over twenty years by indefatigable LibDem councillor David Grutchfield, who only stood down at the last election due to ill health.
(It also suggests the pointlessness of a protest vote. People in Hadleigh who changed voting allegiance to show Nick Clegg a thing or two have rather cut off their own noses to spite their faces, haven’t they? Showed Nick Clegg a whole lot, haven’t you, folks? – and really really helped make sure you get your buses back and your old folk looked after and your schools and social care problems adequately looked at!
Well, its worth pointing out…)
NOW we have the news that Suffolk County Council Leader Mark Bee is standing down, after what has seemed from the outside rather like a year of overt and covert party infighting following the failed putsch of former New Strategic Direction cheerleaders Guy MacGregor and Colin Noble last April.
Was he pushed or has he left of his own free will?
Regardless of one’s political beliefs, Bee came in and steadied a very rocky boat in the wake of the Andrea Hill fiasco. And we may well wonder, in failing to support this decent and honourable man whether the Suffolk Conservative party are – yet again – prioritising party factions and personal ambitions over the needs of the county they are elected to represent!
The Conservatives are playing their cards close to their chest – but it looks like the battle will be between Colin Noble, hoping to be third time lucky, and Bee’s nomination, Jenny Antill.
Mrs Antill has degrees in Law and Russian Studies from London University and was an investment analyst in the City of London until she retired in 1999. She worked for a number of institutions, including James Capel, Merrill Lynch and Putnam Investments.
In public debates Colin Noble is fond of making reference to an 18.5% council tax rise raised by the Labour & Liberal Democrat administration in 2003. He never mentions whether it provided value for money. Maybe for him, that isn’t an issue. He is, however strangely silent on the subject of Suffolk Circle a “Pay-annual-subscription-to-get-a-good-neighbour-scheme” that Cllr Noble and his then Conservative Cabinet colleagues unilaterally decided to give just under £700,000 to, sight unseen, in camera, as a three year start-up – for reasons it is hard to understand, very much more recently. Based on the premise that every person over 50 in Suffolk was ‘old’ and neglecting to recognise the many many groups that provide similar services for free, even a person who did sums on eight fingers and two thumbs could see that Suffolk Circle, as a scheme, was doomed to financial failure. And indeed this baby was a baby which circled the plughole and sank without remark a year ago the moment that SCC’s seed funding ran out (and with ab-so-lute-ly total silence from Cllr Noble) -having cost every man woman and child in Suffolk – council tax payer or no – a little over a pound a head.
Next week’s winner? We wait and see. We, the people of Suffolk, will need persuading that we are not losers whichever way things pan out.