Have you seen this man?
As you may have seen in Hear All Sides, the LibDems are making an ongoing fuss about the "death of democracy" in the Town Hall. Darlington LibDem supremo Martin Swainston wrote an ascerbic letter to this effect recently after he got into a bit of a pickle at Council.
Martin's claim would have a bit more weight if he himself chose to take up the opportunity to hold the Executive to account when he has the chance.
Since the last local elections, as part of our drive to open up Council business, there has been a standing invitation to the leaders of the opposition groups to come along to Cabinet and grill Cabinet members on the presented reports. The Tories, in the guise of Cllr. Heather Scott, and independent member Cllr. Steve Jones are almost always there, and when Heather can't make it, she sends along a colleague. At our last Cabinet meeting, she asked searching questions on a range of key issues which were before us.
And Cllr. Swainston? Of the 9 Cabinet meetings which he could have attended since May 2007, he has been to just 2! On three occasions another LibDem has stepped in, so there have been 4 meetings where the LibDem chair has been yawningly empty.
Rather like their vacuous boasts in Focus leaflets that they campaign "all year round", LibDems in Darlington are an opposition group in name only as far as the practical work of the Council is concerned. They seem happy to leave this to the Tories, which is not I suspect what their voters intended when they put a cross against their names last May.