03 August 2010
Yesterday evening the meeting of New Mills Town Council was about to start and the local MP, Andrew Bingham, walked in.
He already knew some of the people there, made the relevant greetings and pleasant chat, then took his seat as another anonymous face in the public gallery of this particular council chamber.
Whether by luck or judgement Mr Bingham came on a relatively calm evening: during the public part of the meeting there were no calls to sack anyone or take public money to pay legal bills for councillors or throw out any member of the public etc.
Cllr Lance Dowson still sometimes has difficulty realising that he is no longer chairman of this council but the actual chair, Cllr Chantal Hannell, moved things along briskly, fairly and efficiently.
The clerk to this meeting was Mike Crompton, borrowed from neighbouring Hayfield. He spoke quietly, intelligently and respectfully.
The founders of the United States of America managed to do a complete Constitution on two or three pages. By the time this town council got to page 111 of the documents enclosed with their agenda for this particular evening - yes, that is Page One Hundred And Eleven - and Mr Bingham was still present, it became clear that he deserves a medal for voluntarily remaining and observing.
As the hour grew late it would have been very easy for him to leave - some members of the public already had - but Mr Bingham stayed and saw the whole thing right up to the now all-too-familiar exclusion of the public by the passing of yet another special resolution.
Several of these councillors (not all) appear to have great difficulty accepting that it is the public's money they are spending.
Regarding our parliamentary representative there will of course be plenty of debate, comment and criticism on some matters - that is the nature of politics - but at this stage of his parliamentary career Andrew Bingham MP cannot be faulted on his work ethic or diligence.