STOP PRESS – from the MK News:
The motion to ban smoking in Stony Stratford will not take place at tomorrow's town council meeting (Tuesday) and will now be discussed at the next meeting in September.
As reported in last week's MK News, Councillor Paul Bartlett was planning to postpone his motion as he believes his opponents' arguments are 'flimsy' and they need more time to prepare.
Stony Stratford Town Council has now confirmed the discussion will not take place at tomorrow night's meeting, and has been moved to September 20.
My interpretation of this is that Bartlett's motion was heading for a massive defeat following the hugely successful protest on Saturday, so he has taken his ball home in a fit of pique, no doubt hoping that, come September, his opponents will have lost interest and the fuss and bad publicity he has generated for the town will have died down.
Fat chance, pal.
On reflection, I doubt that Bartlett is now operating alone.
If I was advising him (and I would be very surprised if he hasn't received at least one call from ASH), I would have suggested exactly the same tactic.
Regroup and come back and fight another day. Postpone the motion until the autumn by which time other councillors (in other towns) may be encouraged to put forward similar motions.
Attack on more than one front. After all, they will ask themselves, how many anti-ban protests can there be?
I think they're about to find out.
PS. This isn't total conjecture. I am booked to do several interviews on BBC local radio stations tomorrow to discuss the implications of an outdoor smoking ban in Stony Stratford and whether it would encourage other councils to follow suit.
That's why this motion is so important to the tobacco control movement in the UK. They can't afford it to go belly up with a massive majority against because that would set the cause back years.
Postponing the motion also gives them time to find a better advocate – in another town, perhaps – than Herr Bartlett who is clearly a public relations disaster.