Leicester council leader tells public to “have some manners”

Ross Willmott

Ross Willmott

So this was democracy in action then.

The decorum of a regular city council cabinet meeting shaken by palpable anger and frustration among normal members of the public. And when they complained that they hadn’t been listened to council leader Ross Willmott told them to have better manners and show more respect because it wasn’t a meeting designed for questions from the audience.

I dare say if you asked the electorate of Leicester to vote a straight “yes” or “no” on whether a school that needs £1.5 million extra of their money to stay afloat over the next two years should stay open the answer would be overwhelmingly in favour of its closure.

But democracy is more than just about that tired old word “consultation”. Even just in PR terms what harm would it do to let people, ordinary, well-meaning members of the public, raise important questions and have them answered in a respectful way? I can understand the frustration of people who feel that simply answering a questionaire doesn’t really give them the opportunity to express their passion.

I suppose all that matters is what we all knew already. That the council is now unequivocal in its desire to close Riverside College down.

Meanwhile, as I sit on this sunny Monday evening in Clarendon Park my thoughts turn to more important matters. Kick off in an hour’s time of the Leicester Mercury v BBC Leicester 5-aside football grudge match.

I’m going to France next week, somewhere where normal members of the public think nothing of protesting if they think something is wrong. We saw a bit of that in the Town Hall today. It’s not very British but a bit more of it wouldn’t do any harm.

Sometimes good manners can justifiably be sidelined for a cause and today showed that. And respect has to be earned. And respect is a lot harder to earn than votes.

About Ian

A journalist working in Brussels
This entry was posted in Education analysis and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Leicester council leader tells public to “have some manners”

  1. Ross Grant says:

    “what harm would it do to let people, ordinary, well-meaning members of the public, raise important questions and have them answered in a respectful way?”

    It might be a question of ego and vanity, and pychological insecurity. Some people don’t like to see the theatre stage at the same level as the audience. Interactivity is not suited to every political actor.

    In reality though, other than challenge a few members, I doubt it would have done any harm at all.

  2. Ross Grant says:

    This just came up on GoogleAlert Ian, a bit after the time so the google bots must be doing something odd.

    Anyway headline reminded me of the last Cabinet meeting when Cllr Willmott did the same to Cllr Coley, told him to have some manners. It was interesting as Cllr Willmott treats Peter with contempt at most times in Cabinet, ignoring him, talking to others through as Peter talks, and on this occasion making inaccurate claims and not letting Peter interject.

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