Published: 00:00, 25 April 2014 |
Updated: 11:26, 25 April 2014
The day after St George's Day at the St George's Centre?
The omens were well placed for a fiery clash of epic proportions, and maybe that's why the police were there from the start of Medway Council's meeting on Thursday night.
Or perhaps they'd just heard there's unrest among the peasants over a ruling council they feel is laying waste to the spirit of democracy.
The banners and heraldry well already in place - enter dragon slayer Fred Montague, who stormed through the public cordon, wielding a walking stick, and confronted the Conservative side of the council before being placated by officers.
"I want to talk to these muppets here," he yelled. "Why won't you listen to the people that voted you in?"
Dissatisfaction with a lack of time for public questions and a feeling that councillors were too dismissive in their answers had grown to outrage when Mayor Cllr Josie Iles cut the Q&A section short.
It sparked a slow hand-clap of protest - which sped up when the mayor asked for the slow hand-clapping to stop - and when the meeting was suspended Mr Montague stormed the cordon to address members directly.
"They were hell bent on shutting us off," he later said, after a chat with police officers, adding: "when they write to you with an answer it's nothing to with the question."
Among the principle issues at stake is that of Strood Library, and the council's plan to move it from Bryant Road to a new "community hub" in High Street premises currently used by Strood Community Project.
What might have been an issue that only concerned Strood residents has now grown out of proportion because of a perceived lack of public consultation and the council's dismissive attitude towards protesters.
And their opinion wasn't changed when Cllr Howard Doe said the decision had been passed and there was "no point in consultation."
Opposition leader Cllr Vince Maple picked up on the quote, and Cllr Teresa Murray said it was "disingenuous" of Cllr Doe to say it was too late for consultation. Proper opportunities for gauging public opinion had never been offered, she said.
An affronted Cllr Doe hit back, saying the council was not "merely pushing stuff down people's throats," and that "a lot of people like what we do."
"How does he know?" countered Labour's Glyn Griffiths. "Is he hearing voices in his head?"
He called Cllr Doe's protestation a "silly rant" adding: "A large number of people are unhappy.
"All we hear is dogmatism from Cllr Doe."
St George and his dragon are likely to forgotten for another year, but the battle will rumble on at the centre that bears his name.
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