Back in court

The court case for the Noise Abatement Order is finally having its days in court.  We were listed for a three day hearing in front of a (the?) District Judge back in May.  Courts are busy places, and the days allotted to us have finally ticked round.  Yesterday was the first day, and the case made very slow progress.  I arrived an hour after the listed time, and the lawyers weren’t yet in court – they’d been sent away by the judge to see if they could reach a compromise.  After a fair bit of toing and froing and repeatedly viewing the Council’s video evidence, it became clear that a compromise could not be reached, so we eventually wound up trooping into court at around 1130.

At which point, there was just about time for the bus company’s barristers to start his opening statement before we had to break for lunch.

I watch a lot of court room drama on TV.  I have a soft spot in my heart for Law and Order, and can watch it for hours on end.

The bus company’s barrister is no Jack McCoy. The opening statement was slow and technical, and described in painful detail his take on the laws the Council think the bus company have breached.  I struggled to stay awake.  I think someone has sneakily been decaffeinating my coffee again.

At 2.15, we came back to the court and the appellant barrister continued.  Then we saw half an hours worth of video evidence.  This consisted of lots of shots of buses reversing noisily into garages in the middle of the night.

Eventually the videos finished and there was more talking.  Finally the barrister prepared to call his first witness, the bus company MD… but then offered the judge the chance to wrap up early!  “This witness will take some time, which will take us beyond four – maybe we could reconvene tomorrow?”

So in a day in court, we spent much of the time sitting in the reception waiting for lawyers to talk privately.  Although the Council’s lawyer did have the occasional chance to respond to some points, she barely got a chance to speak.

The case continues (as they say in newspapers.)

The case continued all today, with the judge adamant the case would begin bang on the dot of 10am.  However, unfortunately, today I have not been able to be in Nottingham, so I am left not knowing how it went.  Local residents were due to testify today, but given how slowly yesterday went, I may yet get to see them tomorrow.

All very different to how court cases seem on TV!

Happy Halloween

I have no chocolate or sweets in the house, so it’s apples for anyone who knocks tonight.

Off to a late Halloween party on Saturday and have no idea what I’m going to wear or what sort of costume.  What horror figure has a beard?  Bah.

Where were you when you heard?

I had known for a couple of days that conversations with Ming were brewing, but I had no idea that he planned to resign. Kudos to him for taking decisive action and pre-empting weeks of will-he-won’t-he speculation.

We were in Full Council on Monday when we heard. I leave my phone on, but on silent. At some point, a friend who follows politics closely texted to ask me my views. Obviously, I didn’t have an opinion before I knew it had happened, so I slipped out of the chamber to go and check the BBC News website to get confirmation. Then I printed out the relevant story and went back in to pass it round my group.

The local newspaper phoned for a comment, and I sent a PPC out to go and give one.

Then the Labour leader of the Council got some info through a news wire or a text service, and walked across the floor to show us the news on his phone. It didn’t quite twig at the time, but he had the courtesy to come and show us the news before he passed it around his own group. A real mitzvah.

All the while Full Council was raging on around us. We discussed the most recent local government bill, a motion on HMOs, and a motion supporting a bid for a new visitors centre in Sherwood Forest.

Then, at the rise of the main meeting, we had a special meeting to consider granting the Freedom of the City to the Mercian Regiment. The Sherwood Forresters already had the Freedom of the City, but their regiment has merged with many others to form a new one, and so the Council had to re-grant the freedom.

It was important to do this at this time: the Mercian come off active service in Afghanistan soon, and once they are home, they want to be able to march through the streets of Nottingham. Six of them won’t be able to march with their comrades, because they were killed on active service.

I’m no fan of armies. I’m a classic beardy multilateralist pacifist. But I do think it’s right and proper that the servicemen and women who are called upon to go and do and see awful things in the name of Queen and Country are respected when they return. It’s vital to make the distinction between those who call the shots and those who are called upon to make them. I also have friends in the forces.

During the Council debate we heard from three councillors who have sons on active service. One intervention was particularly moving, from a councillor whose son returned safely recently. For all the time he was abroad, his parents were glued to local and national news, hearing about soldiers injured and killed abroad and dreading a phonecall themselves from the MOD.

In the end, we passed the motion unanimously. The City of Nottingham will be welcoming the servicemen and women on parade on the 4th December. I’m cross that I won’t be able to join them. Just a week ago, I persuaded the council to send me on a town planning conference that day, so I’ll be in London. I’ll have to get my friends to take photos.

With the ramifications of Ming’s resignation merging in my mind with the flurry of emotions that went through me for the military debate – not least how awful it is for the families of the soldiers who were killed – I was in a bit a of a tiz when I left the building.

But I got brought down to earth with a jolt to see merrymakers in the street carrying with business as usual: it was the annual 7-legged pub crawl event for new students.