Peter’s Blog – a word in your ear
To be or not to be Mayor that is the question?
As I looked across the Council Chamber, from my seat in the Public Gallery, my eyes were drawn to a rather pensive looking Deputy Mayor, Cllr Yash Gupta MBE, sitting alongside the Mayor Cllr Charles Curtis. I could not help but wonder if Cllr Gupta was thinking of a previous Deputy Mayor who had twice been denied probable elevation to Mayor, I speak of ex-Councillor Eddie Hardiman, who must at times felt that he was in the words of the old saying “always the bridesmaid never the bride”. I make the comparison because Cllr Gupta was the Labour nomination for Deputy Mayor, when Cllr Hardiman resigned his position as Deputy Mayor in November 2010, only to be denied that post owing to the non-attendance of Labour colleagues, thereby allowing the Conservatives, with the help of Independent Cllrs, to vote in their own candidate Cllr Ojetula.
Then in May 2011, when the time came to appoint a Mayor to succeed Cllr Anne Cheale the outgoing Mayor, Cllr Gupta was again the “nearly man” when Ms Cheale made it known that she was not prepared to vote for Cllr Gupta but would vote for any other Labour nomination. So we now have a Mayor who was forced upon the Labour Group by a retiring Cllr who was not a member of the Labour Party and had just completed a year in office as Mayor, courtesy of the Labour Group in return for a “promise” to vote with them thus allowing them to retain control of the Council. I would like to make it clear that I am not making a personal attack upon Cllr Charles Curtis, there is no doubt he is a very popular Mayor and I wish him well for the remainder of his term of office. However I am of the opinion Cllr John Kent, both as Leader of the Council and Leader of the Labour Group, has a duty to ensure that no Councillor is discriminated against.
I have twice asked Cllr Kent to give me his assurance that no discrimination occurred and what reason was given by Ms Cheale as to why she was not prepared to vote for Cllr Gupta and twice he has declined to give me such assurance. I feel I have an obligation to seek clarity with regard to this matter so I am asking Cllr Kent to publicly answer the following questions:-
1. Did Ms Cheale give you a reason as to why she was not prepared to vote for Cllr Gupta or did you not bother to ask?
2. If Ms Cheale gave you her reason[s] were you satisfied that her objections were not based upon Cllr Gupta’s ethnicity or motivated by any form of racial discrimination?
3. If Ms Cheale’s objections were based entirely upon a personal dislike of Cllr Gupta did you consider that reason enough to abandon your support for him in order to secure Ms Cheale’s vote?
Finally, Ms Cheale and Cllr Gupta may wish to give their version of events. In the absence of any explanation suspicion prevails and an unpleasant “smell” is left floating in the air.