Having been Deputy Mayor for the last year, I had the reasonable expectation to become Mayor of Worcester yesterday. I had made plans which would have benefitted the city. More importantly I had worked with charities which I intended to raise money for during my mayoral year.
At yesterday evening's Annual Council that expectation was snatched away in an act of political skulduggery which gives politics a bad name.
My plans to send disadvantaged Worcester children on adventure holiday breaks with the Youth Hostels Association, with assistance from Action For Children will not now happen. Worcester Volunteer Centre, which needs funds to recruit and train volunteers who are badly needed to patch up gaps in council services, will not get its share of the mayor's fundraising. The Air Ambulance charity which needs to build a new helipad at Worcestershire Royal Hospital will not get mayoral help.
Perhaps my greatest disappointment is that my plans to reallocate the mayor's budget cannot now be achieved. I would have cancelled the expensive free meals and drinks provided for mayors and other important people who can afford to pay. This Inaugural Banquet costs about half the mayor's allowance each year. I intended instead to provide more modest hospitality to local volunteers. I also planned to provide a Christmas lunch for our homeless and foodbank users.
Several weeks ago, I spent time with the clergy at the cathedral planning the Civic Service, which is on the morning of 22nd June. I thought carefully about a theme for the service and decided to use the same theme for the whole of my planned mayoral year: "No Community Left Behind". The bible readings and hymns I chose reflected this theme. I subsequently invited the congregation from my own church to come to the cathedral and arranged for the usual Sunday service there to be moved to a different time to accommodate this.
So why has my former colleague Alan Amos wrecked all my plans? Alan was digruntled because his Labour colleagues hadn't given him any position of responsibility - mainly because they didn't trust him. On Saturday, 24th May - two days after the local elections - Alan put his name forward to be considered for nomination as Deputy Mayor, but his former colleagues voted for the other candidate in a secret ballot. Alan stormed out of the meeting.
Three days ago he resigned from the Labour Party, despite being Deputy Labour Group Leader at the County Council.
Yesterday evening all became clear. The Tories had promised him their votes to elect him Mayor in return for his support to gain and retain control of the council.
We can learn a lot about Alan Amos by reading about his checkered past on the internet. He has been a right-wing Tory MP advocating flogging and hanging. He switched to Labour after being cautioned for indecency. His former parliamentary colleague, Edwina Currie, describes him in her Political Diaries as "an unpleasant little twerp who simply wants to be an MP for any party which will have him, and hang any sincerely held views." By substituting the word "councillor" for MP you get an accurate description of today's Alan Amos.
The person who brokered this dirty deal for the power-hungry leaders of the Tory group also has form. Marc Bayliss (now Tory Deputy Leader) is a former Labour councillor and parliamentary candidate. Bayliss joined the Tories a few years ago in a similar deal, with the promise of a cabinet post and a safe Tory seat to fight at the next election.
After last month's local elections, the Tories had 17 seats out of 35 on the council. They needed 18 seats to take control and their attempts to gain political support from the single Lib Dem and Green councillors were rejected by them. It is well known that Marc Bayliss and Alan Amos have been close pals for years so it must have been fairly easy to hatch a deal.
Self-interest and the gaining of power to feed local politicians' egos will, unfortunately, always be the hallmarks of a minority of local councillors. This is precisely why many residents think that "Politicians are only in it for themselves, there's no difference between them."
The reality is that most of us politicians, certainly in local government, and of all political persuasions, have nobler aims.