Five hours of debate would take its toll on even the most ardent of politicians.
And Stoke-on-Trent city councillors were subjected to just that this week as a crucial budget setting reached fever pitch in a 21 to 21 vote tie, settled by the Tory Lord Mayor’s casting vote.
But during the fourth proposed Labour amendment to the budget, one councillor can be heard to say: “Oh, f****** hell!”
No councillor has so far admitted uttering the profanity and the Conservative member for Meir South, Councillor Faisal Hussain – who had just voted against the mental health provision amendment – has denied it was him.
Over Whatsapp, he said: “That wasn’t me. I believe another councillor had his mic off mute. I’m not too sure who, as I heard it too. I couldn’t tell who it was.”
Young Labour activists took to Twitter with the video clip, posting: “‘Oh f****** hell’. Yeah. I’d feel the same if I had just voted against a £100,000 boost for children’s preventative mental health services in Stoke, @SoTConservative.”
Finance officer Nick Edmonds advised councillors that funding council services out of reserves was not a sustainable solution, as the money can only be spent once.
But Labour councillors pointed out that the council was currently predicting a £1.1 million underspend for the current year, meaning their proposals would be affordable.
Did you know we offer a free email newsletter service?
Each StokeonTrentLive bulletin delivers the latest breaking news, what’s on events and the hottest talking points straight to your inbox. For more information about how – and why – to subscribe, click here.
Decide later that you no longer wish to receive the emails? No problem – you can just follow the unsubscribe link.
Conservative councillors responded by saying that the Labour group had condemned previous budget proposals to use reserves in this way.
The council’s monitoring officer, James Doble, issued a warning to members by reminding them to be wary of their language during meetings.
He said: “I would like to remind all members that when your microphones are active, please ensure your language is appropriate to the meeting in question.”
Got something to say about this story? Join the conversation by clicking on the green comments icon at the top of this page or the picture box