Friday, 9 August 2013

Town Councillor's Twitter Tiff

"The Lib Dem leader wasn't listening to us," moaned an Eastleigh Conservative opposition councillor about Hedge End's Councillor Keith House. Cllr House was allegedly spending more time tweeting to his 600 or so followers than he was listening to opposition concerns about the borough's budget.

Cllr House does not deny that he was tweeting during council meetings, and instead turns the criticism back on the Conservatives for "making daft comments" and "not embracing technology and communicating".

I'm all in favour of councillors of any party engaging with their electorate on Twitter, Facebook or blogs. But during council meetings? I'm not so sure. People have a right to expect that their representatives are participating in the meetings they attend. It wouldn't look good if they were sat there doing the crossword, or listening to music on headphones, or taking a personal phone call.

Perhaps if it is so vital that one councillor makes an online dig about something another councillor has said, they should temporarily leave the council chamber while they do so, or wait until the end of the meeting.

The fact that even as leader of the council, Cllr House feels able to turn a deaf ear to what is being said in the chamber while he updates his online chums, is a symptom of the unhealthy state of Eastleigh politics. Thanks to their overwhelming majority, decisions are effectively made in secret Lib Dem only meetings and whatever the impotent Conservative opposition say at the public meeting can be ignored.

But what of that claim that Conservatives do not embrace technology? As I write this, Cllr House has tweeted 662 times, but the Tories' rising star Cllr Grajewski has over 1400!

Oh, and to save you checking, Hedge End Blogger has tweeted 907 times. (New followers always welcome, no experience necessary.)

Lib Dem dead bird logo by


  1. That was a short and rather grumpy council meeting as Cllr Caldwell and his fellow opposition members were unable to put their questions to the leader in person ,as Cllr House and partner Cllr Bloom were busy with a family emergency.
    Well, these things happen of course and nobody would begrudge them having time off to deal with a crisis but the episode seem to go some way to supporting the idea that the governing party is a one man band.
    We have, nominally at least, a cabinet system of local government but nobody else appeared to be briefed,authorised,willing nor able to respond to the opposition's tabled, written questions - not even the Deputy Leader!
    A poor performance by the cabinet - and in front of the Echo as well...
    I concur with your assessment of Cllr Grajewski. She seems to have taken over Brian Norgate's role of 'irritant-in-chief'.
    Although the opposition is small in number they are having a go- but its David v Goliath - except Goliath has taken away the slingshot and hidden all the stones.

  2. I have attended several council meetings and have observed Cllr House using his mobile repeated throughout meetings. Often after texting, his partner, Cllr Bloom, then stands up and says something - often referring to her phone! One can only draw a certain collusion - sorry conclusion!

    In most business meetings, the use of mobile phones is a last resort and using them is frowned upon when in face to face situation. A ban on mobiles during live Council meetings would mean a more active and engaged group of councillors instead of them reading out their leader's dictacts and might encourage them to air their own opinions. We can live in hopes....