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2012, A year in the life of: Vivien Pengelly and the Conservative Party

By marcprosser  |  Posted: December 29, 2012

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Throughout December, thisisplymouth.co.uk looks back at the past year in Plymouth. We will delve into what happened during the last 12 months for people, organisations and even buildings in Plymouth. Today we will be looking at Vivien Pengelly and the Plymouth Conservative Party.

At the beginning of 2012, council leader Vivien Pengelly (Conservative) took a look at the year ahead for Plymouth. She foresaw a 2012 that was going to be a challenging year because of the economic situation, but stressed that there were also plenty of positive things to look forward to.

Some of the highlights would be the Olympic Torch relay and the opening of the new Life Centre in March which would provide Plymouth with some of the best sports and leisure facilities in the country. Other exciting events included the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations and Armed Forces Day.

On a personal plan, Cllr Vivien Pengelly had been shortlisted for a national Leader of the Year award, partly because of the performance improvements the council had showed during her time in charge and the way she had managed a range of major changes in the city, including the sell-off of Plymouth Citybus.

However, after a promising start to the year with much to look forward to, things took a turn for the worse during the spring.

A row erupted between Vivien Pengelly and the Lord Mayor, who accused Mrs Pengelly of stealing the limelight at official events and the ongoing debate about the new waste incinerator became a political hot potato in the run-up to May’s local council elections, with Cllr Vivien Pengelly speaking out defence of it just days before the elections.

And when the votes had been counted it was clear that Cllr Pengelly would no longer be the leader of the council. She and the Conservatives lost power to Labour, who gained enough votes to secure a comfortable majority.

After the elections, Cllr Pengelly said UK Independence Party was partly responsible for her party's defeat.

"They did us a lot of damage. They cost us control – definitely – and I think the Government must stop and listen to what UKIP is saying," Mrs Pengelly said.

After the elections, the Herald's Martin Freeman met the now former council leader for a talk about the elections and life after them.

One of the things Mrs. Pengelly stressed was that there was nothing a local politician could do about the national party's woes, the taxes on pasties and grannies, and the economy sinking back into recession.

"People are fed up with politicians of all parties," she said, and revealed some of the things about being in power that she was not going to miss:

"I don't like meetings," she said.

"And I don't like politics," she added, without a flicker.

Feelings on meetings and politics aside, Mrs. Pengelly and the Conservative Party came out swinging as the new opposition.

Moves to postpone a decision on the fate of Plymouth City Airport were attacked, there were calls to investigate how much the Labour council’s unsuccessful opposition to the new incinerator cost the city and Conservative council members hit out at how the new council was wasting taxpayers' money by giving councillors an assistant.

And towards the end of the year, a fierce censorship row broke out when the council held back the webcast of a meeting.

Cllr Vivien Pengelly said she had been told that it would not be available on Plymouth City Council's website until "certain parts" have been removed.

"I don't think that's right. I am shocked that the webcast is being doctored. It was a public meeting," she said and addad that the Labour-led council had made a big play about being open and transparent but was not living up to its promises.

During the summer, one of the very issues that had meant Mrs. Pengelly was nominated for a Leader of the Year award at the beginning of the year came back to haunt the Conservatives when Stoke councillor Jill Dolan quit the Conservative group, saying she wanted to be able to vote against the party whip in the interests of residents.

Mrs Dolan singled out the sale of Citybus as a factor in her decision.

What have been your favourite moments and/or stories about Vivien Pengelly and the Conservatice Party this year? And what other people, organisations and buildings would you like to see us use for the 'A year in the life of series? Let us know in the comment field below.

Selected 2012 stories about Vivien Pengelly and the Conservative Party:

January

Plenty to look forward to in city over coming year (Jan 10)

Waterfront BID 'right way forward', says Vivien Pengelly (Jan 14)

February

Vivien Pengelly shortlisted for national leader of the year award (Feb 6)

Anger over plan to build 24 homes on Plymouth field (Feb 29)

March

Lord Mayor of Plymouth launches angry attack on cuts to his budget (Mar 3)

Mayor cuts debate 'damaging council' (Mar 7)

April

May 3 local elections: The battle for Plymouth (Apr 4)

Council leader in city airport vow (Apr 11)

Parties outline their pledges (Apr 12)

Plymouth City Council chief's pay defended (Apr 26)

May

Plymouth Tory leader defends incinerator decision (May 1)

VIDEO: Labour sweep to victory in Plymouth City Council elections (May 4)

Plymouth Conservatives: UKIP are to blame for defeat (May 5)

Vivien Pengelly: No tears shed over polls defeat (May 19)

June

FULL COUNCIL: Plymouth airport, webcasting, armed forces and business investment (Jun 26)

July

Councillor quits Tory group to 'better serve ward' (Jul 18)

Plymouth City Council leaders in bitter row over Central Park (Jul 31)

August

Tories to investigate Labour's cost of opposing Plymouth incinerator (Aug 20)

September

Plymouth City Council won't reveal full details of £25,000 report on 'unstoppable incinerator' (Sep 11)

October

Ex-council leader joins airport letter campaign (Oct 4)

November

Wear poppy with pride, says service organiser (Nov 7)

December

Councillors get £20,000-a-year assistant to deal with public (Dec 4)

Webcast of council meeting held back in claims of censorship (Dec 6)

Plymouth councillors walk out of meeting in webcast coverage row (Dec 7)

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  • pipmonster  |  December 30 2012, 6:58PM

    I don't really think we care Herald. To be honest you were running out of things to print weren't you.

    |   1
  • Rick_OShay  |  December 30 2012, 5:50PM

    A week in the life of Viv and the Tories.....extracts from Viv's diary. Monday Today I read about David Camerons big society, what an inspiration he is. I've decided to support it fully so I had 3 breakfasts, a massive lunch and 5 fish and chip suppers for tea. Tuesday Saw Tom Daley on TV today, he is a great advert for Plymouth. I'm going to take a leaf out of his book and go for an all over tan next time the sun comes out. Wednesday That appalling windbag Evans has been saying horrible things about me in the Herald. I bet he never gets nominated for a National leader award, for a start he'd never have the stamina to stay up all night voting for himself on the telephone. Thursday Hurrah! MY Life Centre opened today, who said that us Tories are architecturally illiterate? I bet they're eating their words now! Friday A lovely sunny day so I thought I'd make a start on the all over tan, unfortunately the noise and dust from the incinerator building site next door has left me looking rather streaky. Saturday Lord Mayors parade today, my favourite day of the year. The organisers have asked me to dress up as a mass of seaweed as part of the "Beside the Sea" theme. One of them mumbled something about me being washed up, whatever does he mean? Sunday Ah, a day spent reading about God......yes, I love David Cameron, he's so honest, trustworthy and down to earth. Just like us Plymouth Tories!

    |   14
  • jabbathebutt  |  December 29 2012, 9:57PM

    @charlie ... that was done and dusted by july 18th . She didnt jump ... she was pushed . I thought you were well switched on my friend . I just wish there was more punishment for the sale of "our " citybus family silver ,another one of her "proud achievements " ?.

    |   1
  • jabbathebutt  |  December 29 2012, 9:33PM

    Some of this kind of questioning "reality" journalism might actualy help local newspapers in there quest for sales of the things that are supposed to be "newspapers" and not just a voice for those who are in charge at the moment . Have they ever wondered why people are despondant at reading blatant guff and no questions asked and supposed to part with their hard earned cash for such rubbish ? We only ever hear one side of the story . Not one single journalist has the guts to ask obvious questions of these people . To busy on the phone trying to drum up advertising ?

    |   2
  • jabbathebutt  |  December 29 2012, 9:21PM

    Taken directly from Private Eye magazine (1330) December 22nd 2012. page 11 "Rotten Boroughs awards 2012 . In May's local elections Plymouth tories were swept from office by a wave of protest over plans to build an incinerator in the inner city St Budeaux ward. Before the election,council leader Vivien Pengelly said the incinerator decision was one of her proudest achievments - and then saw a Tory majority of 20 in St.Budeaux turn into a labour one of 1,347 " unquote . Interesting that in the "year in the life" above the Tories blamed UKIP . And the "Councillor quits Tory group to 'better serve ward' (Jul 18) seems even more hypocritical. I would never ever vote Labour .. but well done to those who did on this occasion . When will these people realise they are elected to work for us and not themselves ?

    |   7
  • paulmh66  |  December 29 2012, 4:29PM

    She did well in creating jobs, and getting contracts into Plymouth. A pity none were actually for the people of Plymouth but our European friends done very well from her. What do we expect from any council these days. Unless the people of Plymouth could "grease her palms" we had no chance of anything beneficial for Plymouth's people, apart from the student population of course.

    |   7
  • CharlieDodd  |  December 29 2012, 2:55PM

    No disrespect intended, but Viv led her tories to defeat at the last local election, so shouldn't her chums be looking to replace her in time for the next election? Or maybe she should be a good sport and voluntarily hand over the leadership reins to somebody else. The incinerator and its convoys of heavy rubbish lorries will probably be in action by then, reminding the oxygen-deprived voting public that it was Viv and her chums who lumbered us with the thing, which doesn't bode well for their chances of toppling Evans and his labour clowns..

    |   3
  • fazer58  |  December 29 2012, 2:07PM

    Why does the Herald continue to pander to the ego of this delusional woman? Viv,the people of Plymouth voted you out because they didn't like YOU,not Cameron and the Westminster Hooray Henries,UKIP,Mickey Mouse or anyone else. You were a disaster for this City,at least you could have the decency to fade away quietly. Does the last paragraph in this piece of junk "reporting" really indicate an independent newspaper? No wonder the Herald sat back and watched the monstrosity that is the Incinerator get foisted on the people of Plymouth with barely a whimper of complaint or support. Like many others I was banned from this site once for having opinions the Herald didn't like,no reason given even when I e-mailed them to ask. If the Herald dosn't believe in democracy and obviously supports one political party it has no credibility,neither has it's poster girl,the unlovely Viv. As for your suggestion Herald,how about "A year in the life of someone living next to the Incinerator site",thought not.

    |   18
  • firkinjeffery  |  December 29 2012, 12:59PM

    She could fill in some of those splendid POT HOLES in the city...her band left. sorry how silly of me you cant sell a POT HOLE, it would save me a fortune in suspension repairs if she did happy new year firkin.

    |   5
  • James__Wood  |  December 29 2012, 10:54AM

    As much as I hate Americanisms I feel it's apt for this piece – Viv and Marc sitting in a tree: K-I-S-S-I-N-G First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage

    |   -2

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