My spy in the public gallery reports that Liberal Democrat councillor Jon Hunt presented a petition containing 800 signatures against any form of congestion charging. Now councillors have to represent all their constituents and I suppose that this petition might have come up as a result of a genuine groundswell of public opinion, but I'm really not convinced. This feels like a petition generated by the Lib Dems themselves.
If only the Liberal Democrats had a policy on road-pricing.
But wait! Hang on a minute - they do!
Liberal Democrats believe road user pricing is essential...
...this issue requires robust political leadership if road user pricing is to be widely accepted in the UK. This is the challenge that the Liberal Democrats are willing to face...Make that SOME Liberal Democrats. Others are after cheap political capital. Indeed, some of us remember the former Lib Dem transport spokesman Don Foster, who wrote to the Secretary of State to confirm the Liberal Democrat policy on road pricing, but then went on to explain in detail why it was entirely unsuitable for places like Bath. Can you guess which constituency Don represents?
The Liberal Democrats also completed the eviction of their former colleague Cllr Abdul Aziz by removing him from the Coordinating Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Naturally, you would think that they would seize the opportunity to redress some of the representational imbalance that continues to affect the council (where a large part of the Birmingham population is entirely unrepresented by the leadership - unless you count the three day a week allowance paid to Tanveer Choudhry for leading the Local Area Agreement Task and Finish Scrutiny Committee which has done almost exactly no work since being formed in July)
In any case, you would, of course, be wrong. Clearly, Cllr John Hemming MP hasn't got enough to do, so he can find time to serve on that committee as well as being a businessman, wannabe astronaut,
Fresh and well-fed from an expensive formal dinner with representatives from Guangzhou (I'm not sure if kidney was on the menu with the steak), Whitless was talking up the chances of Birmingham attracting the Chinese team for the 2012 Olympics, although how their swimmers would cope without a 50m Olympic pool for training is an interesting question.
Ironically, a motion was brought to the council about the decline in manufacturing in Birmingham, which gave little Bobbie Alden a chance to speak his (rather limited) brains. He blamed the problems of industry on the tax and red-tape policies of Gordon Brown, rather than accepting the unpleasant truth that volume manufacturing is thriving in places like China because the workforce will work for pennies and not demand fripperies like holidays, safe working environments or pension plans.
The Tories did themselves no favours today, catcalling and barracking Albert Bore as he tried to raise a petition in support of those British citizens imprisoned by our American friends in Guantanamo. Similarly, one of their number came back with potentially libellous remarks about Sir Albert's appointment as chair of the University Hospital NHS Trust.
A reshuffle is in the air as departmental functions are being moved around in a grand game of musical chairs. Of course, the new departmental heads will be appointed after a thorough process of fair and open selection. Or they could just be picked for their loyalty and willingness to do as they are told. Guess which path the council has chosen. This has an impact on the cabinet as well, and Tory Cllr John Lines is wandering around telling all and sundry that he will be the new cabinet member for constituencies and housing - which may come as a surprise to the current holder of the local services portfolio, Lib Dem Jim Whorwood.