Both my regular readers will have been wondering why my blogging has been less prolific than usual recently. Well, it has nothing to do with the 1,400 miles I have travelled in the past couple of weeks watching Reading lose to Birmingham and Burnley (twice). These days I can blog from a moving train if needed, so that's no excuse. Though I drove to the match at Turf Moor. I don't suppose anyone reading this has ever tried to travel by train from Darlington to Burnley and back: if they have, they're probably still wondering why.
It's because I blog mainly about local politics in Darlington which, it must be said, is going through a very quiet, uneventful period at the moment. This week's Full Council meeting is a case in point. Apart from Alan Coultas, who can be relied on to dish it out, particularly if the Leader of the Council is his target, there was very little controversy or excitement.
Our Leader, Martin Swainston, asked Nick Wallis, portfolio holder for Climate Change (he's against it) whether his European ambitions (sadly, because we'd love a by-election in his ward, not to be fulfilled this time around) were interfering with his work as a Darlington Councillor (they aren't, we were assured). As expected, this was the only exchange the Echo reporter reported on.
I spoke twice. Firstly to ask David Lyonette, transport portfolio holder, whether anything could be done to stop the many drivers who each day break the law and put pedestrians at risk by driving through the pedestrianised areas of the town centre. It seems there is no prospect of anything being done about this because Durham Constabulary, in their wisdom, can't be bothered to enforce these laws (my words, not Cllr Lyonette's).
Secondly, I asked the Chair of the Health and Well Being Scrutiny Committee, Marian Swift, whether she had seen an advert in the Echo, where a nightclub in the town were advertising a cheap drinks promotion. This type of promotion, which is an open invitation to excessive drinking, does nothing to help Cllr Swift's campaign against the health problems caused by binge drinking. She agreed with me.
This question did produce one mildly diverting interruption from a Labour Councillor. I don't know his name, I don't remember him ever coming within my radar, but as I mentioned the cheap drinks promotion he leapt agressively to his feet to ask whether advertising was allowed in the Council Chamber. Poor love, he didn't realise I was being critical of the promotion! But I bet he's got a really big car.
So, the last Council of the year went out with a wimper. If you want to see how a mayor is made, come along on Thursday to the Annual Council meeting, where Conservative Jim Ruck will have the chains of office passed to him from Ian Haszeldine. I suspect we may have a somewhat different style from the Mayoral Chair in the coming year.