Ken swaps hats…

Ken Thornber

Cllr Ken Thornber. Former Leader of Hants County Council, now its new Chairman…

It was all change at the top this morning, as Hampshire Council appointed a new Leader. Conservative Cllr Ken Thornber took over the role of Chairman of Hampshire County Council whilst Conservative Cllr Roy Perry took over Cllr Thornber’s old role of Leader of the Council.

The changes were effected at this mornings Special Council meeting and AGM, where the ruling Conservative party’s improvised a response to their disaster at the polls on the 2nd May.

The Conservative who had been pre-ordained to take over the role of chairman this year, Pam Mutton, the former Hants County Councillor for Andover North, was beaten by 10 votes in those elections, by Timothy Rolt of UKIP.

That defeat was much lamented by Cllr Thornber, saying that it was;

“a grevious loss to his party”,

as he took up the office that he was expecting Pam to hold this year…

Curiously, at the time of writing, Pam Mutton is still listed as a County Councillor on the Hants County Council website and on the Pilgrims Way and River Way website. The wheels of change move a lot slower when you are a Councillor on the way out, rather than a newly elected Councillor taking up office…

… of which there were many to be seen this morning.

Cllr Ray Finch of UKIP, in a move that might help to reassure people that UKIP are responsible if elected at local level,  spoke to say that;

“UKIP would not be seeking membership of the County Council’s Europe Board”,

That move avoids the disruption that UKIP could have brought to that particular committee, allowing the County Council to manage Hampshire’s ongoing business with Europe unhindered by UKIP’s  ‘Out of Europe’ agenda, a matter which can only be resolved at national level.  Clearly anticipating some progress on that front soon, Cllr Finch couldn’t resist adding that;

“We’ll be out of Europe soon enough anyway…”

Much of this mornings meeting was concerned with the rituals of handing over the chains of office, badges of office,bouquets to the consorts and approving some honorary Aldermanships for the outgoing Councillors. There were plenty of speeches too.

At one stage, the new Leader of Hampshire County Council,  Cllr Roy Perry, bemoaned the interference from Westminster, saying that Hampshire was the Democratic tier of Local Government. Although Cllr Perry went on to say that he didn’t want an independent Hampshire, his words were very reminiscent of some that Eastleigh News had heard uttered by Colin Bex, the Wessex Regionalist candidate at the recent Parliamentary by-election in Eastleigh…

Besides an interesting statistic, where Cllr Thornber himself revealed that 7 of his former staff, PA’s etc, have had babies, a fact of life that Cllr Thornber quickly went on to deny any responsiblity for (and we believe him!),  the new Chairman also said that he would;

“Rise to the challenge of delivering budget cuts that he knows will be expected by Westminster, whilst maintaining services.”

Ken was also at pains to explain that in his new role,  he expects to be referred to as “Chairman”, rather than “Chair” or “Ken”, or “Councillor”…

We then learned that Ken really doesn’t like the live broadcast of Hampshire County Council meetings and he warned Councillors to be careful what they say,  as the presence of TV means that;

“No-one can deny what they said and how they said it”

Which was actually a very revealing insight into how Hampshire County Council would otherwise work…

Perhaps himself mindful of the TV, Cllr Thornber also went to some lengths to explain the procedures for asking questions of the Executive in the Council Chamber and for raising motions to be debated.

Councillors were told that questions to the executive have to be submitted in writing 5 working days in advance and are not to be read out in full in the chamber, an instruction which one Councillor promptly and pointedly ignored, an indiscretion which drew gentle chastisement from chair. Cllr Keith House, leading the Lib Dems in opposition at HCC, rose to explain the fallacy of that situation, saying that the TV audience need to appreciate the question. An ongoing battle of wits seems likely at HCC, over the coming months, with opposition Councillors trying to make their questions fully public and the Conservative rulers trying to suppress that…

Because of all the speeches, little business of any substance was conducted today, though Cllr Martin Tod did have some success. His question to the Executive, about whether public comments on planning matters could be published on the web, drew a positive response and should be implemented before the next meeting.

The Lib Dems raised an interesting motion for discussion in the chamber, suggesting that the Council should ban a process called “Fracking” within the county. That process, of injecting pressurised fluid into the ground to open up fractures in rock so that shale gas can be extracted, was said by the Lib Dems to be environmentally unfriendly, responsible for earth tremors and not something that should be carried out within the County of Hampshire.

Again wary of the cameras and the public record, the motion was not discussed any further at todays AGM, but was kicked into touch for further discussion in a future committee meeting.

All of the Hampshire County Council webcasts are retained in an archive on the County Council website. You can watch today’s proceedings by following the appropriate link from that archive.

Ray Turner

Formerly a Civil-Servant and IT Specialist at ONS, Ray is now semi-retired and spare-time self-employed. He contributes to Eastleigh News on a voluntary basis and is also an administrator for the site. 

  13 comments for “Ken swaps hats…

  1. mm
    Eastleigh Xpress
    May 23, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    I’m glad to see Ken Thornber in the chair (and he made it quite clear he didn’t want to be addressed as chair “I am not a piece of furniture”) because we can continue to enjoy the Ken V Keith show.
    Although very different in politics and presentation they are both highly adroit and listening to them is the equivalent of a masterclass in politics .

    • May 23, 2013 at 10:30 pm

      Very true about Ken v Keith. Will be worth tuning in again just to watch that little contest.

      I wonder if they secretly respect/admire each other…?

  2. Pete STewart
    May 24, 2013 at 8:19 am

    Thank you Ray. A nice write up for those who could not make it. I look forward to watching the video.

  3. May 25, 2013 at 10:23 am

    Peter,
    Cllrs should stop talking and start working!!!!!!!!

  4. Pete Stewart
    May 25, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Sam,

    Old Oriental saying: There is a time for talking and a time for action.

    UKIP councillors will do both and this will benefit voters.

  5. May 25, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    Peter YOU said one thing one day,changed your mind the next day and walked away. “Good start for UKIP councillors “failed to
    do their duty”….thanks for the information.
    Sam Snook

  6. Pete Stewart
    May 26, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Sorry Sam, I’m not quite sure what you mean. If you can cite a particular instance, I shall be happy to clarify any confusion.

    I’ve no objection to people their mind. Someone famously once said, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do Sir?”

  7. May 26, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    If I change my mind-I would let you know-and you tell why!
    You asked me to help UKIP go local and then you changed
    your mind-but you never told me why.
    Sam

  8. Pete Stewart
    May 27, 2013 at 9:50 am

    Sam, I understand you’re impatient to see UKIP LOCAL in action, but to suggest there’s been a change of mind from local to national issues is wrong.

    The only change occurred during the by-election and the whole campaign was managed by the Party Campaign Manager not by me.

    But it’s only been 25 days since the 10 UKIP HCC Councillors were elected and only 4 days since their inaugural meeting at Winchester. Give them a chance!

    However even in that time, UKIP Councillor Andy Moore has already sorted a potentially lethal fault in Bishopstoke bridge (see full story on Eastleigh News).

    Well done UKIP LOCAL!

  9. Sam Snook
    May 27, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    Thankyou for letting me know it was Duffy who stood me down.

    “As for Andy Moore” sorting out a lethal fault on Bishopstoke
    Bridge-don’t make me laugh Peter-does he want a medal?
    Sam Snook

  10. Pete Stewart
    May 28, 2013 at 8:42 am

    Hi Sam,

    1) I have never said any such thing about Lisa Duffy.

    2) I am always happy to discuss generalities with you here but never specifics.

    3) You are welcome to email me as you have always done, if there is any point you still do not understand.

    4) I never said the fault on Bishopstoke Bridge was “lethal”, but “potentially lethal”. The Police thought so too, because they shut the Bridge.

    5) Well done to UKIP activist Paul Rice for spotting the Bridge problem and well done to UKIP Councillor Andy Moore for alerting the Police and getting the problem solved quickly.

    6) Andy Moore does not want a medal for doing that. He was only doing the job he was elected to do.

    Regards,
    Pete

  11. Sam Snook
    May 28, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    I have got a lot to do-before the next elections.
    Thankyou for all your help and advice.
    Sam

  12. Pete Stewart
    May 29, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    For a fellow North End pupil, always a pleasure.
    Regards,
    Pete

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