Such was the hype for the Great Borough Council debate
.As it turned out there were many empty seats and most of those that were occupied were either local election candidates or their party groupies.
It was a well ordered and quite disciplined meeting, even the noxious BNP were listened to in sullen silence.
Their spokesman was so poor that the audience really couldn't be bothered to heckle him.They were probably mostly asleep,lulled into a comatose position by the speakers from the three main parties.
The report in Thursday's paper was painfully accurate.The three main parties were dreadful. Of the three 'leaders' only David Palethorpe of the Tories came across as anything like a human being.
The other two were as wooden and lifeless as most of the furniture in the Great Hall.Brian Hoare,the Lib-Dem leader was as stimulating and inspiring as an accountant explaining how the tax mechanism in medieval Sudan worked.
Lee Mason, the Labour leader had the world at her feet.She had nothing to lose and everything to gain.She could have inspired that audience to see a bright new future ahead for Northampton.
Unfortunately she sounded like the other half of Hoare's exposition of tax laws in medieval Sudan!
It was left to the Independent's-Tony Clarke,Malcolm Mildren and the others to inject some life into the whited sepulchre that was the debate about Northampton's future.
In essence it would appear that the Tories are going to sell off the housing stock,bring traffic to bits of Abington Street and talk to the Saints and the Cobblers quite soon!
Brian Hoare is going to continue dishing up more of the same,bearing in mind that the Con-Dem cuts would get bigger and bigger, oh and one day(someday) a brave new Grosvenor Centre would rise,and he'd talk to people.
Lee Mason promised that she too would talk to people,whether it was the same people that the other two might speak to was not made exactly clear.
My question to the platform was a simple one.Given NBC with cabinet is a one party state and scrutiny committees are also run by them,the only way for oppositions to operate is using the call in process.
How often over the last four years had the opposition groups used call in?
Palethorpe thought his group had invoked call in 3 times over four years.Lee Mason thought that her group had done about the same.
Malcolm Mildren said that the Independents had used call in about 8 times in eighteen months!
The comparison was stark and simple,the Tories don't need to use call in,they are simply waiting for control to fall in their lap.The Labour Party with only five members needed to use the council mechanisms to demonstrate their alternative-they have failed miserably!
So it was the tiny Independent group who showed the real strength of opposition for the last four years.
That was why on the night they shone as the individuals willing to challenge the vested interests on behalf ofv the people.
That's why for once an iIndependent,a Green, an SOS or a Socialist and TU is worth casting.
There were one or two other independents,notably Liam Costello who given half a chance would make a difference.
The Lib-Dems are always boasting that local elections are two horse races,this time there is a full field and not being a 'big' party is no handicap.