Who said what about Mary Mears? She’s certainly not gutless or clueless.

A right unholy spat took place at the meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council on Thursday night, and it is being suggested that legal action might be taken by two party leaders.

Before proceding any further, can I make it 100% clear, Council leader Mary Mears has no family connection whatsoever to Mears Maintenance Group which has a £200 million contract to provide property maintenance for all City Council housing properties.

Regular readers may have noticed that I am not a Tory but I respect politicians of that party who are competent.  Labour and Green activists are known to rubbish, even mock, Mary Mears. More fools are they.  In all my time of observing Brighton politics (back to the heady days of Steve Bassam’s leadership of the Council), there have been fewer politicians as able as Mary Mears. Energetic, focused and ruthless, Mary’s leadership will mean that Tory losses in May will not be as extreme as they might have been.

So what happened at the Council meeting?  Mary alleged that opposition councillors had been spreading a falsehood that she was connected to the property maintnance company.  When pressed, she is said to have named Labour leader Gill Mitchell but later withdrew this counter allegation.

Both are considering legal action, but a more likely outcome will be reference to the standards committee.  False allegations about contracts and family connections are serious and potentially very damaging, but you makes them at your peril.  Naming a political opponent for spreading falsehoods is not at all attractive, but it isn’t in the same class as alleging corruption.  Name calling is an ugly part of the cut and thrust of sectarian discours and Gill Mitchell should treat it as water off a duck’s back.

Regarding name calling, it was a lively Council meeting, as is usual in the run-up to a local election.  There were a couple of lovely soundbites, as reported in today’s Argus.  Green convenor, councillor Bill Randall (one of the Council’s few heavy weights, politically of course) said: “I do not believe that the Tories are evil but they are happy to do the devil’s work”.  In response, Conservative councillor Tony Janio (who is another reason why the Tories will defend key seats in May) described the Green Party as “nuttier than a nutty fruit cake”. And finally, Tory Ayas Fallon-Khan described the Labour Group as “gutless” and “clueless”.

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4 Responses

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by JuliaChanteray, BrightonPoliticsBlog. BrightonPoliticsBlog said: Who said what about Mary Mears at Thursday's Council meeting? She's certainly not gutless or clueless. http://wp.me/pxVNs-l2 [...]

  2. At the meeting Mary Mears suggested, rather impressively, that I should move to North Dakota…

    I have no dealings with absurd stories as the real ones are good enough, but my impression from listening to people is that they assume Mary Mears is connected with the building firm, the fruit and veg outfit and even that Lapland thing in Dorset.

    I have never met Mary Mears, so I have no idea what she is like, but at the Mayor’s bash in the Pavilion she did apologise for her intemperate remark to me after I made a joke outside the General Election count.

    I think that, with some of her remarks, she does lay it on with a trowel, if a building metaphor can be allowed here.

  3. I can say quite categorically that no one on the opposition side alleges that Mary has any connection with the national firm Mears. Residents often question us on that alleged link and we always put them right – there are many things we can lay at the door of the Tories, but that isn’t one of them.

    If ANY councillor wants to make an allegation and complaint against another member then the way to do it is via the Standards Committee, with evidence, not in unsubstantiated accusations in full council, in front of the public and on webcam. This is not the way for the Leader of a council to behave.

  4. I am frequently asked by tenants if Mary Mears has a family connection to Mears, the company contracted to provide repairs to Council housing stock, and, like my ward colleagues warren Morgan and Gill Mitchell, have always stated that she does not.

    Regarding name calling, sometimes it can be acceptable as robust political banter if it’s witty but referring to an entire political group as ‘gutless’ and ‘clueless’ is just cheap puerile abuse and not particularly funny.

    Residents would be better served if their councillors concentrated on issues rather than hurling cheap abuse across the chamber.

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