Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Mark Bee's Token of Transparency

I haven't yet posted anything about yesterday's election of Cllr Mark Bee as head of Suffolk County Council's controlling Conservative group, mainly because it seems slightly perverse to express too serious an interest in the internal machinations of a political faction with which I am in no way aligned, however significant they might be for the future of the county as a whole. Having declared his support for Bee a few minutes before the election, James Hargrave has been cautiously celebrating the result, and I agree with his call for a stop to SCC's myopic trailblazing ('leading on the edge of chaos' for the hell of it, and for the message it sends to CCHQ):
We don't want the county we love turned into a laughing stock nationally, a byword for wasteful and overpaid local governement [sic] with the Chief Executive literally all over the national papers. At times I have maybe said that Suffolk is a bit too sleepy and behind the times. Can we go back a bit more to those days Mark?
Meanwhile, Ipswich Spy has expressed reservations about Bee's likely approach (or lack thereof) to SCC's problematic Chief Executive Andrea Hill, citing his apparent reluctance to discuss the issue in his pre-election presentation, while fellow candidate Colin Noble "made an impressive presentation during the hustings about his views on Ms Hill, whose days would have been numbered under his leadership." Moving away from the symbolic problem of Hill, Andrew Grant-Adamson provides a more pragmatic assessment of Bee's obligations both to disaffected Tory backbenchers and to the political momentum of the NSD juggernaut: "The words 'New Strategic Direction' may be consigned to the Endeavour House dustbin, but it is clear that the policy of divestment will continue albeit in a more humane form."

For what it's worth, I thought I'd share a little fact that I discovered while doing some research yesterday morning. It turns out that, of the three candidates for the leadership -- Mark Bee, Colin Noble and Guy McGregor -- Bee is the only one to have his latest entry in the Register of Members' Interests available online and linked to on his Council profile page. This might have something to do with his position as Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee (only two Committee members, Colin Hart and Anne Whybrow, have failed to do the same). Still, in view of the Council's questionable record on Freedom of Information and transparency, it seems like a pretty good sign.

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