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Swindons ASBO Councillors – Rod’s ‘Bluhligans’

Yesterday I read a letter written by Cindy Matthews in the Swindon Advertiser.  Cindy’s letter referred to last weeks ugly display of Swindon Conservatism in the civic chamber which saw respected members of the community forced, by the Council’s Conservative ‘group’ of councillors, to wait through several hours of ill-tempered bickering and political point scoring before they were allowed to speak and present petitions to the council.

Cindy says:

“…. I had been told by the meeting clerk that it was likely that we would be moved up the agenda and heard early on, for some reason the Conservative Group voted to make us wait. This seemed to me to be intentionally intimidating to the petitioners and arrogantly dismissive of the general public.

Over the last few years I have often observed Swindons Conservative Councillors being deliberately arrogant and dismissive towards members of the public and,  on the evening Cindy Matthews attended council,  I understand that the Conservative councillors had already decided to use this very rude ‘strategy’ during their group meeting held just prior to council.

The behaviour of Swindons Conservative Councillors towards visiting members of the public are easy to predict. Unless the visiting person is in the chamber to applaud or agree with Councillor Roderick Bluh and members of his gang, (known locally as the Bluhligans), they are treated as enemy combatants and Councillors immediately do their best to force the visitor into a mental stress-position. I expect, in the usual display of puerile behaviour, most of the front bench Councillors,  (the cabinet), were also pulling faces at Cindy and her fellow victims.

Cindy continues:

“When it came to our petition, we were told by the lead member for transport [Peter Greenhalgh] that the council was not responsible and it was purely a matter for Thamesdown Transport.

This is not in fact the case and I have in my possession a letter from the council’s Passenger Transport Manager dated August this year, confirming that the council had subsidized our part of the 23 bus route out of its transport revenue budget, which it had cut in July this year.”


Cllr Greenhalgh’s  Register of Interests (Available via the Council website), shows that he sits on the board of Thamesdown Transport, so it would appear that Cindy Matthews has caught out telling a politically-motivated lie.

Cindy again:

“It seems astonishing that the councillors responsible for transport and the local ward councillors are misinformed over such a basic point as to their responsibility for cutting what is for many people an essential public service.”

Do readers think Councillor Greenhalgh is misinformed, or that he arrogantly decided to bullshit Cinday and dare other Councillors to call him out? – I think the latter.

Have a ganders through the [url=][b]SBC members code of conduct[/b][/url] and reflect on whether Cllr Greenhalgh has broken it once again, and whether his political colleagues are similarly guilty.

This is a short excerpt from Swindon Borough Council’s own guide to members conduct which tells Councillors how they should approach their public roles…..

Table 1 – The Ten General Principles of Public Life

Selflessness – members should serve only the public interest and should never improperly confer an advantage or disadvantage on any person.

Honesty and integrity – members should not place themselves in situations where their honesty and integrity may be questioned, should not behave improperly, and
should on all occasions avoid the appearance of such behaviour.

Objectivity – members should make decisions on merit, including when making appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards or benefits.

Accountability – members should be accountable to the public for their actions and the manner in which they carry out their responsibilities, and should co-operate fully and honestly with any scrutiny appropriate to their particular office.

Openness – members should be as open as possible about their actions and those of their authority, and should be prepared to give reasons for those actions.

Personal judgement – members may take account of the views of others, including their political groups, but should reach their own conclusions on the issues before them and act in accordance with those conclusions.

Respect for others – members should promote equality by not discriminating against any person, and by treating people with respect, regardless of their race, age, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability. They should respect the impartiality and integrity of the authority’s statutory officers and its other employees.

Duty to uphold the law – members should uphold the law and, on all occasions, act in accordance with the trust that the public is entitled to place in them.

Stewardship – members should do whatever they are able to do to ensure that their authorities use their resources prudently, and in accordance with the law.

Leadership – members should promote and support these principles by leadership, and by example, and should act in a way that secures or preserves public confidence.

The behaviour of our  Conservative Councillors doesn’t reflect well on them, but a few of them are secretly delighted that they have been nick-named ‘Rod’s Bluhligans’ by members of the public.  I think they’re fully aware that the nickname isn’t meant as a compliment.

Chris Watts of the Talkswindon Forum recently remarked:

“Mr Mayor lost control of the meeting, points of order were flying left, right and center, Cllr Greenhaulgh thought that he was a stand-up comedian and started delivering one liners like Lenny Bruce.

The Mistress of Heckle, Cllr Vera Tomlinson could let nothing go without comment. The highlight came when Mr Mayor put a motion to the vote, when asking all “in favour say aye” most Tory hand went up in unison whilst a bemused looking Lab and Lib contingent wondered what they were voting on. When questioned it became apparent that the Tory’s did not know either.”

In my opinion ‘Mr Mayor’ doesn’t deserve to be called ‘Mr Mayor’.  He’s an equal disgrace to the ceremonial robes he wears and public office he holds.  I think Councillor Rex Barnett, (another Conservative), knew exactly what he was doing that night and I exepect his performance was as carefully choreographed as the unanimous Conservative ‘aye’ vote to keep petitioners like Cindy Matthews waiting all night.

And then there’s Vera Tomlinson….. Residents of the Wyre Valley were probably relieved when Cllr Vera Tomlinson*, (the ‘Queen of Heckle’ as Chris calls her), left the Wyre Valley because her behaviour there seems to have been as obnoxious there then, as it is here now.  People have accused hatchet-faced Vera of  hijacking at least one meeting for ‘political ends’  and trying to claim the credit for others work.

Also,  it seems that Vera isn’t interested in letting others have their say and her hooligan behaviour is nothing new.  The well known Swindon Blogger Komadori recently commente on Swindon Conservative Councillors who attended last April’s ‘Advertiser Question Time’ at the Wyvern theatre.  The title of Komadori’s piece was, appropriately as it turns out,  ‘Rent-a-mob at the Wyvern’


“At last night’s question time event at the Wyvern Theatre chaired by the Adver’s Mr King, the lesser lights of the blue nest were on their most puerile and infantile behaviour. Mr King may not have been the best chairman in the world — allowing the candidates to make speeches in place of answers and allowing Ms Snelgrove to waffle on for as long as all the others put together — but the blue  rent-a-mob heckling from the back were doing their candidate no favours. The public were there to hear a debate, not to have one side of it drowned out.


The offenders were quickly identified by a member of the Talkswindon.org forum:

Concerned of Old Town:

“I attended the event together with the “after party” in the Beehive and have a couple of observations:

I agree totally with komodoris excellent blog about the “rent a mob” crowd in the audience aka as Justins mum and her fellow conservative councillors.  Any respect I have for them  has totally gone and their behaviour alone has probably convinced me that I  will not be voting blue.  This is a shame as I feel that Justin came across well and probably won the debate.  However I fear ‘rent a mob’ is indicative how the conservatives will behave (as already seen in Swindon) if they get elected nationally.”

‘Justins Mum’ is a reference to Justin Tomlinson, (Vera’s Son), who was at that point a Swindon Borough Councillor but became, in May 2010, the Member of Parliament for North Swindon.  During the meeting I understand that Councillor Vera Tomlinson and Councillor Fionualala Foley tried to drown out Anne Snelgrove, (then Labour MP for South Swindon), by  ‘slow-clapping’, when she remarked upon Rod Bluh’s Wifiasco.

I think it is true to say that shitty behaviour from many of Swindon’s conservative Councillors is nothing new and is likely to get a whole lot worse as they come increasingly under public scrutiny for the austerity actions they are about to embark upon.  It all sounds rather horrible and, while it is true that many of these people are actually horrible people that you wouldn’t invite home to meet your parents, we should recognise that they are only a small minority of Swindons Councillors.

However, even with that in mind, I can’t help thinking that the presence of a single floating turd in a swimming pool makes the prospect of a swim markedley less enticing….

….and that is probably why the turds are in no hurry to polish themselves.

As usual, a discussion topic is now open on the Talkswindon Forum

Posted on
Thursday, September 30th, 2010
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