Fortunately, I wasn't involved in the 'Public Forum' business at this month's full council meeting. Asking questions or making statements there is always an odd experience - you go along optimistic, and come out wondering why you bothered. And if you stay to watch the full business of the council, there's usually a feeling of anger and frustration at the end, after all the bickering, grandstanding, bullying, and general negativity of the session.
Evidently last nights proceedings were worse than ever, as one irrelevant point scoring debate effectively took over the whole agenda, leaving the real business abandoned for lack of time. Two of my Green colleagues were moved to blog about it in Charlie Bolton's Southville Blog and in Aurea Mediocritas. Both are a good read.
Full council meetings should be a showcase, where issues of importance to Bristol can be discussed and acted upon. In practice they're a shambles, an embarrassment, as the interparty snipers try to steal the show by taking verbal pot shots at each other. This should be the place where elected members can suggest (and can be persuaded to reach) constructive decisions; in practice the party whips remove that opportunity (except, of course, for Charlie - the only member of the 70-strong council who can vote the way he believes to be right).
The irony is that Members know that this is a big problem, they've acknowledged it many times. But still, on the day, it's 'my gang's better than your gang'.
And if they can't even change their habits in the council chamber, what hope have they of facing the other realities - like climate change.