Last Thursday, as I was preparing for the full council meeting that afternoon, a tweet suggested something extraordinary might be happening in Westminster. No, not a new rainbow coalition to stop the Tory cuts, but something still quite unexpected.
Local government minister Eric Pickles MP rose to answer a question about his planned abolition of the Standards Board, which runs the councillor code of conduct under which I am currently ‘guilty’ for my use of YouTube.
Rather than just provide the answer and sit back down again, Mr Pickles chose to cite my case as an example of why the Standards Board regime needed to go. Well, despite vehemently disagreeing with Mr Pickles on many things, I agree with him on this. The current regime for regulating councillors prevents them from doing what most would naturally assume is their democratic duty. The process is bureaucratic, needlessly involved and often abused for political point-scoring. Good riddance I say.
So Mr Pickles joins fellow minister Grant Shapps MP, John Hemming MP and a swathe of others in supporting my cause. I was invited to discuss Mr Pickle’s support on BBC Sussex Radio last Friday, with his colleague Bob Neill MP – you can listen again here. I’m told this was also covered on BBC South Today.
Until the localism bill is passed, the standards regime remains and I am still subject to it – so I continue to prepare for my appeal tribunal on 3rd November. It will be held from 9.30am at the Brighton Hilton Metropole — all welcome!