‘Anti-Democratic Island Conservatives Prevent Debate’, say Independents

Last night Cllr Barry Abraham called on an obscure procedural rule to stop any debate, proposed by Independents councillors, on concerns over possible breaches in council constitution in connection with the awarding of the roads PFI contract.

silence-button-shawnzleaLast night’s full council meeting was quite ‘lively’, as you may have seen from our live coverage on Twitter. This in from the Cllr Bacon, Independent councillor for Brading, St Helens and Bembridge, in his own words – Ed.

Wanted debate on possible breeches in constitution
At last night’s Full Meeting of the Isle of Wight Council a motion was to be debated concerning the awarding of the PFI contract and the effect of possible connections with the controversial planning application to build an Asphalt Plant on the banks of the River Medina.

The motion brought by Independent Councillor Chris Welsford sought to highlight problems with the Council’s approach which mean that, in relation to the PFI contract and future deals, Councillors may be prevented from receiving vital information that may raise concerns over the viability and performance of such contracts.

Instead of allowing the debate, by using an obscure procedural rule, the ruling Conservative Group halted the debate, avoided a vote and also barred Independent Councillors who had already indicated a wish to speak from being able to say anything. This included the seconder of the motion, Councillor Jonathan Bacon.

Bacon: Suggests “they have something to hide”
Councillor Bacon said “This is ridiculous. The Conservative administration cannot face having any form of sensible debate about its approach to running this council. To block debate and discussion not only suggests they are undemocratic but also that they have something to hide. It is no wonder they are now a spent political force as further illustrated by their dismal performance overall in the council chamber last night”.

To enable members of the public to form their own view, Councillor Bacon has released his notes (On The Wight will publish later – Ed) of what he wished to say at the Council meeting but was barred from doing so.

‘Dismal approach’
Councillor Bacon said “In releasing the speech I intended to make I hope it will shown just how dismal the approach of the current Conservative leadership is to both the procedure and substance of democracy and the interests and concerns of Island residents.

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Thursday, 17th January, 2013 9:15am


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Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News, Roads, Top story

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Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.


  1. Who was it that once termed Conservatives as the “Nasty Party”? Oh yes- their very own Theresa May – then Party Chair now Home Secretary, so she should know what she is talking about.

    At the Tory Party Conference in October 2002 she stated “There’s a lot we need to do in this party of ours. Our base is too narrow and so, occasionally, are our sympathies. You know what some people call us — the Nasty Party.”

    (Article 2 of Hitler’s 1933 Enabling Act stated “Laws enacted by the government of the Reich may deviate from the constitution.”

    Sound familiar?

    Yeah- I know- Godwin’s Law strikes again!)

  2. Jake_Gully

    17.Jan.2013 10:11am

    Never heard of Cllr Abraham before, but seems to have been a Canute like figure trying to hold back the rising tide of criticism against the current IW Council leadership.

    His comments made in support of Cllr Cousin were perhaps unfortunate. Using arcane procedure to stymie legitimate debate is clearly undemocratic. I doubt that this action was undertaken under his own initiative.

    The Council must remember that they are public servants, elected and paid to represent our local interests. They should not block legitimate debate raised by other elected coucillors.

  3. Let’s hope that those of us that care about the Island remember this in May. Too often the likes of Chris and Jonathan have been blocked from representing residents. We should all learn a lesson here and vote Independent come May. I will.
    It does seem to me that members of the ruling party are too interested in blocking questions rather that providing services that we, the residents, of the Isle of Wight should expect as a given right.
    What a pity they care more about procedural issues than ensuring we have good schools, good social care etc.
    Something is badly wrong here.

  4. Perhaps the cabal regard it as OK to stifle debate on the grounds, using the “Abraham Standard”, no dissenting councillor was taken out and shot?

  5. Robert Jones

    17.Jan.2013 10:33am

    Barry Abraham is a nice enough chap, when he’s not surrounded by his gang, but no one has ever accused him of possessing a brain like a planet. Or if they have, it would have been a very small planet; more of a rock…

    So I doubt that he thought up this “obscure procedural rule”, or was – despite his years of experience on the council (translator’s note: they can’t get rid of him) – even aware of it. Someone has slipped a word in his ear, and provided him with a crib sheet too.

    I’d like to know a bit more about this obscure procedural rule to which Cllr Bacon refers … just how obscure was it? I might know if I’d attended the council meeting, but County Hall is bleak and around 10 miles away, the fire was warm, and I’m not the questing seeker after truth that I once was. Even so – I know I’m suspicious, but I’m sensing the opening shots in a political campaign here….

    • prewitt parrot

      17.Jan.2013 11:07am

      Could this be why they wont grit the roads? To deter the electorate from attending Council meetings and witnessing the dead men walking making a mockery of democracy

    • It’s in the constitution.
      Procedure rules for the regulation of proceedings. 14. (10)
      But why would somebody actually want to us it in a democratic council? :-s

      • Which subsection of 14 (10) was used?

        Maybe there is a case for a report of maladministration to the Local Government Ombudsman? http://www.lgo.org.uk/
        Para 14 (10) is as follows.
        10. Motions which may be moved during debate
        When a motion is under debate, no other motion may be moved except the following procedural motions:
        (a) to withdraw a motion;
        (b) to amend a motion;
        (c) to proceed to the next business;
        (d) that the question be now put;
        (e) to adjourn a debate;
        (f) to adjourn a meeting;
        (g) to exclude the public and press in accordance with the Access to Information Rules; and
        (h) to not hear further a member named under Rule 22.3 or to exclude them from the meeting under Rule 22.4.

    • Robert,

      I was at the meeting and it was Pugh who seconded it. As you say, Barry is not the sharpest tool in the box and this was very obviously a premeditated action, probably with the connivance of the Chair who sought, and got, the approval of Davina Fiore.

      I don’t know what it’s going to take to expose this rotten administration for what they are; they brook no dissent whatsoever and sit smirking at the opposition a la George Osborne. God (if there is such an entity) help us all.

  6. Island Monkey

    17.Jan.2013 11:12am

    They are frit.

    Barry normally reads from a script. We can assume this was handed to him – the party are running scared. Their incompetence and failure are overwhelming them.

    • Is David Pugh standing for the 2013 IWC election or not?

      • prewitt parrot

        17.Jan.2013 11:32am

        I don’t see how he could possibly risk it, given how he is blamed and disliked by so many for his arrogant ignorance. Being unceremoniously booted out and sent scuttling off with his tail between his legs back to the paper-clip counter would hardly aid his aspirations of meteoric rise within the Nasty Party.

  7. James Luke

    17.Jan.2013 11:18am

    Totally unacceptable!

    In recent weeks there have been a number of serious issues impacting Islanders lives that have distracted the public from the PFI. Clearly the Ferries and Wightlink in particular are very serious issues and I share everyone’s concern about these problems.

    However, the PFI is potentially the most serious imminent issue facing Islanders. I say that because of the shear cost of the programme, the planning issue that will impact thousands of Islanders and the fact that it will impact every single road on the Island. We are already seeing the Council attempting to sidestep the road gritting problems as they will be part of the PFI next year.

    The behaviour of Councillors once again supports the suspicion that they have something very serious to hide. The scandal behind this contract will be revealed eventually. All we can do in the meantime is keep pushing and make sure that the Councillors know that public concern will not go away!

  8. Chris Welsford

    17.Jan.2013 12:46pm

    Democratic government works correctly on trust. Only with the good will and cooperation of those in power, can it function. Abuse of the power granted to the majority by democratic means is what we witnessed last night.

  9. James Luke

    17.Jan.2013 12:53pm

    Fully agree Chris and thank you for your attempt! We cannot let this rest and I really hope that you have the strength to continue the battle.

    Talking to friends and family I know that the majority of people haven’t paid that much attention to this issue. When they hear what is going on they are invariably shocked. It’s really critical therefore that awareness of this issue is raised so that the electorate can hold the Council to account.

  10. So the independents now speak with one voice. Surely that is not what being ‘independent’ is about? Shouldn’t they each be issuing their own press release? The more you look at it, the more they act and behave like a political grouping. I have this feeling that more and more are being taken in by this enormous con-trick.

    And what is anti-democratic about the Tories winning a vote on something that is a common constitutional clause in many organisations?

    • @Robbo “And what is anti-democratic about the Tories winning a vote on something that is a common constitutional clause in many organisations?

      If Robbo cannot distinguish between “constitutional manipulation” and “abuse of process” there is not a lot to be said further.

    • wightywight

      17.Jan.2013 7:01pm


      Enormous con trick….? Hmm, good to hear conservative supporters shuffling their feet uncomfortably as the new Political Force takes shape and moves into power after May…

      Of course you will not like the *organisation* of Political alternatives to your beloved – yet disgraced and spent – political masters. Only with a cohesive campaign can there be any chance of dislodging this disgraceful conservative administration. If that takes Independents working together to get elected then bring it on….!

      Now, you talk of “anti democratic” actions that the tories have been accused of….as another poster points out, if you are unable to discern Political nuances then there’s not much else to be said……..but I will ….one time.
      Quite apart from the fact that a very solid argument can be made against a big majority administration ever being able to function “democratically”…. it is clear that within the context of the whole issue on which we are discussing, namely the PFI, that actions were taken by the majority ruling Councillors that bypassed *Democracy* in the way it was intended.

      A motion to move debate on at any point of the proceedings can be made, from understanding the constitution. Listed above (thank you *cynic*…)we see with confirmation by Sally (who attended the meeting and recorded it…so, no mistake!) that a motion to move onto the “next business” (under “regulation of business section 10”, paragraph 14 (10)c was quoted by the proposer Cllr Abrahams) and seconded…and then voted upon.
      However, this was immediately before the Council had ANY opportunity to discuss a motion concerning the PFI and Asphalt plant approval and construction. A contentious issue and of great Public interest and concern for many Islanders and their representatives.

      It is also known that there appears to be evidence that supports the allegation that the PFI award was made *illegally* from a constitutional perspective because relevant and important information that was to hand during a Council debate on the matter was withheld from Councillors who then subsequently voted on the matter. That is what is alleged and that is what is also (it is alleged) supported by evidence.

      Clearly, there is a very vested interest in the majority ruling party to avoid investigation, questioning and embarrassment over these allegations of “wrongdoing” (either by design or by mis-management)and it is with this clearly in mind we can approach the manner of the proceedings last night.

      If, as has been enacted last night, we are going to accept that the proposing of a motion (as seen last night to move on to the next business)to disrupt and curtail democratic discussions to take place by elected representatives we are in a very dangerous place indeed. I doubt that I have to extrapolate exactly where (in actual and democratic terms)this is can be used *legitimately* to stifle ANY business/issue/concern/ deemed fit to stifle by a majority ruling party.
      What you fail to understand is that the very *democratic* process you wish to defend – ie, a proposal/seconded and passed by the majority on vote – is, under these circumstances the most UNDEMOCRATIC action that this Council can take!

      This is so serious it has very wide implications which could attack and challenge the very heart of democracy in our midst.
      You refer to this is….” a common constitutional clause in many organisations”…. is it?
      A clause that *allows* (or, rather, disallows) any debate on the whim of the ruling majority… that is your idea of *Democracy*….?

      Apart from trotting out almost pyschophantic adoration for this conservative administration what part of their actions seems remotely *democratic*…? The inane and mindless assertion the “Constitution allows it”…?

      Clearly if this is to be allowed in the future we are going to see an almost impossible position for the ruling party (if they do not hold a strong majority) to administer policy.

      Actually, I will suggest to you that the way the matter was dealt with last night is an absolute categorical misuse of the specific section of the constitution (which is there, almost certainly, to allow debates that are entrenched and mired in minutae to move on…) in the way it was used to prevent Public debate.
      These are desperate measures being taken by this discredited administration and they do resemble final gasp reactions to hold on to power. They will have the opposite effect, I’ll wager, as those interested enough to understand the way this elected conservative administration have lurched, mis-managed, prevaricated, presided over terminal cuts to services and completely and utterly treated the Public (and electorate)with disdainful contempt…. those people of the electorate WILL make their voices heard in May.

      It is finally over for these disgraceful, muppet driven, block voting, public hating reprobates that believe they have actually carried out their tasks admirably well and probably cannot see what all the fuss is about.

      You talk of democracy…. I suspect you actually do not know what it actually *means*……


      • Frankly my dear, you need to calm down!

        • James Luke

          17.Jan.2013 11:12pm

          The report below states that democracy in the UK is in decline due to the power of large corporations (e.g. Eurovia / Meridiam), politicians that do not represent the views of the electorate (e.g. look at this story) and voter apathy!


          I believe that voter apathy is a serious problem and will confess that I am very guilty on this point. I did not take much notice of local politics and 6 months ago didn’t know anything about the PFI. I suspect that the majority of the electorate on the Island are like me. The result is that we have a major (& no doubt very, very expensive) scandal unfolding before our eyes!

        • wightywight

          18.Jan.2013 12:45am


          Calm down….? are you on something?

          You asked what was “anti-democratic about the tories winning a vote…..”

          In relatively concise terms I have told you what is NOT democratic about the whole matter and the use of specific clauses in the constitution which have been used inappropriately and which threaten the very fabric of democracy in our local assembly….

          ..and your response – quite ineffectively – is to suggest the messenger “calms down”…!
          Most sane, rational and free thinking people can see right through these actions…serving to actually magnify and illuminate the errors, mismanagement and cynical contempt of democratic process and the electorate.

          That is, my dear, the state of conservative aspirations and blind panic emerging as they try to fill all the pepper holes in the sinking ship.

          What should triumph is the quality of the decision over the PFI that this Council has taken. The quality of the benefits to the Island population, rationally argued, positively expressed and merited.

          Instead the whole issue is drowned in concerns, criticisms, doubts and dis-information…. Finally, nicely iced by refusals to embark upon discussion of new evidence and obscure tactics to thwart democratic process.

          Clearly this administration have yet to learn that honesty and transparency is THE way to remain in power…. subterfuge, obfuscation and refusal to engage is the calling card of the already defeated. I’ll drink to that come May.


    • How sad that Robbo sees a group of individuals choosing to work contructively together, & heartily resents it!

      Sometimes decent people get together on particular issues, Robbo, just because they think it’s the right thing to do. And not because they have been whipped into it. How weird is that?!!

      • How sad that some people have nothing better to do than trawl over the entrails of a disagreement. I disagree with all the ‘On the Wight’ fawning over the so-called merits of the ‘independents’; get over it

        • wightywight

          21.Jan.2013 9:52pm


          Quote: “How sad that some people have nothing better to do than trawl over the entrails of a disagreement”

          Another interesting observation. If you decide to set your own measure of democracy, from those elected to serve the population at large, so low then of course you will disagree. If you consider democracy to be of some importance – do you? – you would not be finding such disagreement over the serious questioning and allegations that surround this matter.
          When an elected Councillor produces evidence to support allegations that the Constitution has been broken by actions of the ruling conservative group, that the award of the PFI is flawed because information known at the time was withheld from those tasked with voting on the matter (the cabinet)…you might want to apply a little more concern for the whole procedure that has seen this Island become embroiled in an arguably disgraced contract.
          However, the comments are not about the PFI per se…they are about how this ruling group have avoided debate over the breach of constitutional rules which, in turn, has prevented the PFI contract coming under further scrutiny..
          As I said, set your acceptance bar of democratic process around the level you appear to have done will put you firmly out of step with a vast majority of the electorate that are concerned about such democratic process.
          Clearly you have a alternative political agenda to many people here…possibly elsewhere..I don’t know.
          I for one will not allow this disgraceful situation to be played down by people such as you that hold differing views..


  11. Rules. “for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men”

  12. This is quite interesting:

    “(b) If a motion to proceed to next business, or that the question now be put, is seconded and the Chairman thinks the item has been sufficiently discussed, he or she will give the mover of the original motion a right of reply and then put the procedural motion to the vote.”

    I’m not sure Cllr Scoccia (who, presumably, thought the item had been sufficiently discussed) gave Cllr Welsford (who moved the original motion) a right of reply, did she?

  13. What are the termination clauses in the PFI contract?

    Perhaps Independent councillors and candidates should be exploring them and including a termination policy in their manifestos?

  14. Man in Black

    19.Jan.2013 3:36pm

    No surprise to see this tucked away on page 49 of the IWCP.

  15. Jill Russell

    21.Jan.2013 6:21pm

    Such procedural shenanigans are obviously part of a general effort to sweep as much as possible of any potential bad news under the carpet this side of the elections. Thanks to the fearless reporting by IWCP combined with voter apathy/ignorance if the Conservatives get re-elected we should brace ourselves for a slew of extremely unpopular decisions as soon as the election is over. Most of the money spent by the Council comes from central government who pull the strings anyway. Outlook for representation of the interests of most IW residents very gloomy indeed.

    • James Luke

      21.Jan.2013 7:11pm

      Disappointing that the IWCP didn’t report any of this last Friday. The Council Meeting was Wednesday evening so I would have thought there was sufficient time to make the Friday paper. The number of comments on this article (and associated articles) suggest that this is a very hot topic.

  16. James Luke

    2.Jun.2013 1:44pm

    A letter in the IWCP by Gary Taylor of Ryde has called for a “sensible debate” on the supply of asphalt to the PFI roads programme. Is this the same Gary Taylor who was part of the administration that repeatedly blocked debate on this very subject?

    • James Luke

      2.Jun.2013 1:44pm

      • I don’t know what anyone would be worried about, this is clearly a ‘man of the people’ speaking, pleading for common sense and democracy!

        I’m guessing that if the plant was put in at Medina we would see the same kind of “rigorous conditions and adherence to the strict regulations” that elsewhere we find in wealthy companies and individuals undermining the principles and intentions of our taxation system at every twist and turn!

    • Bystander

      2.Jun.2013 4:36pm

      Given that Gary Taylor now appears so keen to see a job done properly its a pity that he was so p*ss poor as a councillor for Ryde South that the Tories didn’t let him stand in that ward again, knowing full well that he would be ditched at the first opportunity by the electorate he let down given that he was no more that a flaccid, insipid yes man for Pugh. Instead they put him up in another Ryde ward where he was well and truly given his marching orders. So who cares what the loser thinks?

  17. Island Monkey

    2.Jun.2013 1:53pm

    I bet it’s one and the same. Obviously the Tory come-back is well under way.

    Ex Councillor Mazillius is busy having his say too, on another Island news site.

    Be warned, the Tories haven’t gone away, they are not even pausing.

    • James Luke

      2.Jun.2013 2:35pm

      I hope the Councillors whose original motion was blocked respond in the County Press. Pugh and Giles repeatedly denied any link and talked about a quasi-judicial process. This letter suggests otherwise!

  18. Don Smith

    2.Jun.2013 9:27pm

    Sorry to stray from the topic.

    Two gay Tory men get married {Tie the knot].

    One says to the other. “Which one of us will draw the widows pension when the time comes?”

    • I didn’t take you to be a social security afficionado, Don! It would be ‘widower’s’ pension if anything, of course, but I don’t know if that has been put in place for gay marriage.

      It may be the case that most people, including gays, weren’t thinking about marriage as an issue, but now the government have, it now seems the obvious next step. The more people in loving and committed relationships, and who don’t feel a stigmatised for it, the better.

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