11:21AM, Friday 02 February 2018
Protesters outside the town hall before the meeting
‘Shambolic’ and ‘farcical’ is how the extraordinary meeting to discuss a motion of no confidence in Royal Borough leader Simon Dudley has been described by councillors on both sides of the debate.
The motion had been called by opposition councillors in the wake of controversial tweets made by Cllr Dudley (Con, Riverside) about 'aggressive begging' in Windsor.
At Monday’s meeting at Maidenhead Town Hall the first hour of debate centred around whether the motion would go ahead and what it could include.
RBWM’s head of law and governance Mary Kilner was strict on what could be spoken about in relation to the motion.
Councillors had to cut down prepared speeches, with homelessness off the table, causing frustration across the board.
Also banned from debate was Cllr Dudley’s actions before he sent the tweets and the letter to the police and crime commissioner. This led Cllr Claire Stretton to put forward a motion to withdraw her original motion and bring back a reworded version next month.
The wording of the motion was examined carefully and discussion about whether it could be reworded on the spot took place.
Cllr David Evans (Con, Hurley and Walthams) said: “I don’t think it is going to be helpful to have a word-for-word breakdown.
“I’d ask us to take a careful approach if possible, otherwise we are going to end up with people being frustrated.”
The Mayor of Windsor and Maidenhead, Cllr John Lenton (Con, Horton and Wraysbury), told the meeting it would be good to get the vote out of the way on the night ‘in fairness’ to Cllr Dudley.
Cllr Dudley added: “My strong assertion is that it should not be withdrawn. We should bring this matter to a close tonight.”
The motion to withdraw the initial motion was voted against by 40 councillors, with nine in favour and three abstentions.
Cllr Geoff Hill (Con Ind, Oldfield) said he “almost walked out” and told the meeting: “This has descended into a sham this evening in front of the world’s media.”
When Cllr Jack Rankin (Con, Castle Without) stood up to support Cllr Dudley, he was cut short after about a sentence.
He said he supported the council leader because of his ‘continued work’ on the Borough Local Plan, regeneration and Holyport College.
But this was as far as he got before he was stopped for going off topic. He later published his full speech on Twitter.
‘Shambolic’ was how Cllr Ed Wilson (Con, Clewer South) described proceedings, with Cllr Stuart Carroll (Con, Boyn Hill) comparing it to an episode of Yes Prime Minister.
Cllr Carroll said the meeting ‘has been a farce’ and took to Twitter after the meeting where he apologised to “all residents and guests”. He added that he has requested the council “urgently review all aspects of how we approach public meetings”.
After nearly three hours of discussion it came to the original motion, which saw 43 votes against and nine in favour of the motion.
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