THE Insider knows only too well that council meetings can go on a bit. But if you have stood for election, it is probably wise to try hard to concentrate on those occasions voters come to County Hall to beg for your support.

As library campaigners put their case to the Safer and Stronger Communities Scrutiny Committee, member Alan Thompson revealed an unusual style for concentrating on the debate, closing his eyes and resting his chin on his chest at one stage.

However, when it came to the important bit, he wasn’t caught napping, springing into action and casting his vote on behalf of the electorate.

BUT it is at parish council meetings where the real drama lies. North Hinksey Parish Council has been caught up in “plonkergate”: just who did or did not call someone else a “plonker” at the council meeting on October 11?

Chairman Neil Clark believes that Remembrance Day Sub Committee chairman Bryony Newport said “What a plonker!” at him across the floor of the meeting.

Mrs Newport insists she was misheard. In fact, she said: “procedures have not been followed and it would be plonkers to support it as repercussions would follow.”

It is easy to see how to the too very similar sounding phrases could have been confused.

It all makes The Insider proud of British democracy.

BBC Oxford likes to boast that Phil Gayle’s 7am wake-up call is “Oxfordshire’s brightest breakfast show.”

That particular quality was grimly lacking when the DJ attempted to take on heavyweight issues this week with a series of discussions about the economy.

Among the painful questions hurled at embarrassed experts were: “Must inflation always go up?” (this gem on the day the Government announced inflation had fallen), and The Insider’s personal favourite, “Did Mrs Thatcher invent the whole concept of inflation?”

Robert Peston’s job seems safe for now.

TALKING about people who are meant to be bright... It was agony to behold Oxford students struggling to master the automatic ticket machines at Oxford Railway Station recently.

And sources at the Bodleian Library tell The Insider that many of these young geniuses have trouble mastering the doors. “It’s like watching Chewbacca attempt The Krypton Factor,” The Insider was told.

WITH the succession race at County Hall set to heat up in the new year, The Insider was intrigued to see how leader Keith Mitchell would take criticism of his libraries policy by front-runner Ian Hudspeth. The Woodstock and Bladon councillor recommended that the Oxford Central library should be merged with the Bodleian or another university library to cut hundreds of thousands from the library budget.

Mr Mitchell was not impressed. The university would give the idea “very short shrift” he told councillors.

“I was quite interested that he could have proposed this 18 months ago when he was a member of the cabinet,” he added. Ouch!