What “NOT VOTING” sounds like in Peterborough

Spectators Gallery sign in Peterborough Town Hall showing the way up four flights of stairs
Spectators Gallery sign in Peterborough Town Hall showing the way up four flights of stairs

Last night I arrived at Council too late to catch the whole debate on the council’s plan to make a £1.2M annual saving by cutting the services it currently provides to Peterborough’s children.

But I was in time for the recorded vote.   Our local newspaper has already published this story but has not (so far) provided a list of who voted which way.  I suppose this information will eventually be published in the council’s very own minutes, but who ever reads those?

So, since several people have asked for a breakdown, here are my gleanings  from the Spectators Gallery:

CON    Arculus, Nick    ABSTAIN    West
CON    Casey, Graham    ABSTAIN    Orton Longueville
CON    Lee, Matthew    ABSTAIN    Fletton
CON    Maqbool, Yasmeen    ABSTAIN    West
CON    Simons, George    ABSTAIN    Paston
CON    Sanders, David    name heard but unable to hear response    Eye & Thorney
CON    Allen, Sue     name not heard    Orton Waterville
CON    Cereste Marco    name not heard    Stanground Central
CON    McKean, Dale    name not heard    Eye & Thorney
CON    Walsh, Irene    name not heard    Stanground Central
CON    Dalton, Matthew    NOT VOTING    West
CON    Day, Sue    NOT VOTING    Paston
CON    Elsey, Gavin    NOT VOTING    Orton Waterville
CON    Fitzgerald, Wayne    NOT VOTING    Bretton North
CON    Goodwin, Janet    NOT VOTING    Orton Longueville
CON    Harper, Chris    NOT VOTING    Stanground East
CON    Hiller, Peter    NOT VOTING    Northborough
CON    Holdich, John (OBE)    NOT VOTING    Ghinton & Wittering
CON    Kreling, Pam    NOT VOTING    Park
CON    Lamb, Diane    NOT VOTING    Glinton & Wittering
CON    Nadeem, Mohammed    NOT VOTING    Central
CON    Nawaz, Gul    NOT VOTING    Ravensthorpe
CON    North, Nigel    NOT VOTING    Orton with Hampton
CON    Peach, John    NOT VOTING    Park
CON    Rush, Brian    NOT VOTING    Stanground Central
CON    Scott, Sheila    NOT VOTING    Orton with Hampton
CON    Seaton, David    NOT VOTING    Orton with Hampton
CON    Serluca, Lucia    NOT VOTING    Fletton
CON    Stokes, June    NOT VOTING    Orton Waterville
CON    Thacker, Paula    NOT VOTING    Werrington South
CON    Todd, Marion    NOT VOTING    East
CON     Over, David    NOT VOTING    Barnack
LAB    Forbes, Lisa    FOR    Orton Longueville
LAB    Jamil, Mohammed    FOR    Central
LAB    Johnson, Jo    FOR    East
LAB    Khan, Nazim (MBE)    FOR    Central
LAB    Knowles, John    FOR    Paston
LAB    Martin, Stuart    FOR    Bretton North
LAB    Shabbir, Nabil    FOR    East
LAB    Shearman, John    FOR    Park
LAB    Thulbourn, Nick    FOR    Fletton & Woodston
LAB    Murphy, Ed    FOR    Ravensthorpe
LAB    Sylvester, Ann    FOR    Bretton North
LD    Fower, Darren    FOR    Werrington South
LD    Sandford, Nick    FOR    Walton
LD    Shaheed, Asif    FOR    Walton
LD    Davidson, Julia    name heard but unable to hear response    Werrington South
PIF    Miners, Adrian    declared interest, so unable to vote    Dogsthorpe
PIF    Ash, Christopher    FOR    Dogsthorpe                                                                      PIF    Fletcher, Michael     FOR    Bretton South
PIF    Fox, John    FOR    Werrington North
PIF    Fox, Judith    FOR    Werrington North
PIF    Harrington, David    FOR    Newborough
PIF    Saltmarsh, Christabel    FOR    Dogsthorpe
PIF    Sharp, Keith    FOR    North
PIF    Swift, Charles (OBE)    FOR “but confused”    North
PIF    Lane, Stephen    name not heard    Werrington North

I found it very difficult indeed to pick up the voices of the Conservative councillors last night.  It was a very muffled vote.  I was unaware that “NOT VOTING” was an available option.  I wonder whether or not the Conservatives on the council understand what “ABSTAIN” means?  If they do, then why did they choose to say “NOT VOTING”?  The Chair announced that 23 people voted FOR and that 29 people abstained and that nobody voted against the motion.

I haven’t caught everyone’s response so I know there are errors and some omissions in this list.  Please feel free to correct or explain these if you can (comments are open).  The sound system available to councillors is so bad that many struggle to make it work properly.   People in a meeting may feel confident to signal their vote to the chair, especially if their views are already very well known.

According to the newspaper “a motion to defer closing the centres so that alternative proposals can be considered was carried following a vote and the issue will now be decided at the next meeting of the council’s cabinet.”  But the motion, as I understand it, was proposed by Cllr John Shearman (LAB) and he made a point, immediately prior to the vote, that the motion was to “recommend that Cabinet defer any decision until alternative proposals are proposed, considered and consulted on.”

Well done Peterborough’s opposition.  Last night “spectators” had the pleasure of witnessing over a quarter of Peterborough’s councillors actually holding the executive to account.  I have never seen this before.

This is what it looked like to another observer: http://parkfarmneighbourhoodwatch.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/childrens-centres-first-for.html

Here is a photo of the opposition standing up to demand a recorded vote:  http://terry-harris.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/Full-Council-Childrens-Centre-Closures/G0000xzhmtuMp.a4/I0000UNVajRUjfiU

But the big question now is will Cabinet pay any attention at all to the wishes of Council when it meets on Monday at 10am?