I know this is fresh from a blog post about sticking to the argument rather than making it personal, but in this case I'll make an exception. Tony Page really plumbed the depths in last night's cabinet meeting telling the public that if a woman should be attacked or assaulted in Reading then he would hold me personally responsible. What an odious little man.
The more I think about it, the more I see quite what a disgusting thing it was to say and Labour's sewer politics in action. I hope he'll reflect on what he said and will apologise like Harriet Harman, but (as his made up election stories proved) even if he did say sorry he'd have his fingers crossed behind his back whilst he was moving his mouth. With talk of "final solutions" and racist terminology, the so called "progressives" are sinking to the bottom of the cesspool. I expect nothing in the way of apology from him, or at least not a sincere one. He seems totally incapable of simple decency.
My crime? Getting rid of Labour's £16,000 subsidy to the Reading Taxi Association to employ two taxi marshalls to keep the private private hire trade at bay.
And let's lay one canard shall we. This is not a cut. It wasn't a budget item. It is not in the "Detailed Budget Book". It was something that Steve Waite had told councillors had "No net cost to the council." I'd have cut it even if there was money overflowing from council coffers. The council is not in the business of subsidising private businesses from the council tax. Yet even the private businesses don't want them.
Here are some of the overwhelming responses the council got when asking whether we should keep the taxi marshalls:
When they were introduced we thought they will help form the queues of passengers.
Hire another enforcement officer as that would be money well spent.
Thames Valley Police
If there is a late night levy imposed then part of it could be allocated to taxi marshals,
This is non-essential.
I believe that this should be funded from the taxi companies.
I do not believe that the service adds value and improve the public perception of the town centre.
Private Hire Association
Many drivers would prefer the withdrawal of the so called taxi marshalls and rather support the similar work already being done by the local police and Council enforcement officers.
The only people who spoke up to keep taxi marshalls were the Reading Taxi Association, but should we be surprised when Labour has two black cab drivers as councillors. Maybe Mr, Page will also extend his fatwah to his council colleagues if anyone gets attacked. After all, it is the RTA who decided not to contribute anything to it despite a clear agreement that they would. The question is why did the Labour administration decide to pick up the tab without even putting it in their budget. Were they trying to hide it? Did they think that no-one would notice them dipping freely into their magic pixie pot of money... what you and I would call council tax?
You would think that two private security guards were all that stood between a sophisticated evening out and complete anarchy in the ranks. Yet, Reading Borough Council already has a dedicated taxi enforcement team that checks the licences of drivers and cabs, performs spot checks on vehicles and ensures the safety of the public.
The problem with Councillor Page is that he doesn't think £16,000 is a lot of money to lavish on his pet schemes. I do. Especially when those who really should be paying for it refuse to.
It's like discovering your neighbour is stealing your electricity then complaining about being cut off when you find out about it.