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Musings from the editor's chair: A Tale of Two Councillors reveals the best and worst

Martin Trepte

Martin Trepte

Musings from the editor's chair: A Tale of Two Councillors reveals the best and worst

Cllr Ed Wilson

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

Don’t worry, I’ve not gone all Dickens, and no, I’m not referring to revolutionary France at the height of The Terror – though, thinking about it, there are some similarities.

What I’m talking about is the experience of our reporter David Lee at last week’s RBWM cabinet meeting.

Rather than A Tale of Two Cities it was more A Tale of Two Councillors, between them showing the best and the worst of the calibre of those elected to represent us.

As one of said councillors has accused me of being ‘dodgy’ and an ‘unelected fire raiser’, let’s start with the other one – the best.

Dave had stopped off at a takeaway before the meeting. When he arrived he realised he’d left his wallet behind. He mentioned this to Cllr Ed Wilson (Con, Clewer South) who offered to pop back to look for it as he was only staying for the first item on the agenda – he isn’t a cabinet member.

Not only was Cllr Wilson as good as his word but, once he’d found it, he even went back to the meeting to give Dave his wallet. What a great gesture and what a credit to his position as an elected representative.

Contrast this behaviour with that of the Advertiser’s self-appointed nemesis, Cllr MJ Saunders, the cabinet member for petty attacks on the press.

Cllr Saunders had been suspiciously silent on social media after a flurry of abusive tweets and personal attacks on the integrity of the Advertiser and its staff provoked complaints from members of the public.

But he obviously still had an axe to grind and seized his moment when discussion turned to RBWM’s deal to keep bus services running.

Fixing poor Dave with a baleful glare he launched a scathing attack on the Advertiser, accusing us of misleading readers because we had reported the total figure for bus subsidies of £840k rather than just the extra £153k the council was having to shell out in more subsidies on five routes.

This £840k is a cold hard fact, so cold and hard that it came directly from the council press team. I understand one of them had the unenviable task of trying to explain this to Cllr Saunders after the meeting...

The public and press cannot speak during council meetings, so Dave had to sit there and endure this cowardly tirade (the councillor has form for this).

While other councillors shuffled in embarrassment at Cllr Saunders’ behaviour, one member of the public said they’d had to walk out in disgust.

Cllr Saunders’ conduct, in person and on social media, continues to bring RBWM into disrepute and reflects poorly on his colleagues.

The jury appears to still be out over the complaints about his behaviour on social media. Council leader Simon Dudley tweeted last week he had been cleared of any misconduct by the council’s ‘monitoring officer’.

This was before those making the complaints had even received an official acknowledgment.

Now we’re told they are still being investigated, and that a new social media policy is being introduced.

So, once again, the left hand doesn’t seem to know what the right hand is doing.

Business as usual, then, in the corridors of power.

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