The Liberal Democrats are accusing the Council of gagging them by refusing to allow their questions on the Council’s Budget and other issues to be taken at the Council Meeting. The Council has also withdrawn a motion on Housing Infrastructure which was published in the Council’s Summons.
A letter from the Council’s Solicitor to all Councillors and Senior Managers states that
“there will be no questions from Councillors considered at the Meeting. Questions were submitted by a Councillor but officers only became aware of them after the deadline for questions had passed.” He goes on to say that “Motion 4 on the agenda will not proceed to the full Council Meeting and is to be considered withdrawn.”
Chairman of the Lib Dem Council Group, Cllr Ian Marks said, “We are very angry about this. The Questions were submitted on time but were directed into the Council’s ‘Spam inbox’. Copies sent to Cllrs Barr and Walker arrived immediately after being sent and an email sent to the Council’s Chief Executive from the same email account just 17 minutes earlier arrived perfectly satisfactorily. It is not our fault they were treated as spam and the Council should accept them as valid questions. We have to assume the Council is looking for ways to avoid answering our questions on the Budget covering Waste treatment, Adult Social Care and the proposed Housing Company and other questions on Green Bin charges, the Libraries Working Group and HS2 and salt mines.
The Council is saying that it would not have long enough to prepare answers. They still had two days when the mistake came to light and in any case you would have hoped they had answers to the Budget questions already. If not, it just confirms it was just a ‘wish list’ Budget as we said at the time. If the questions had been taken at the Council Meeting we would have accepted written answers anyway.
How many emails from the public are going into the same black hole? Are these treated as unacceptable in the same way?
Deputy Group Leader, Cllr Peter Walker added, “I am very annoyed that my Motion requiring the infrastructure needed to support major developments be agreed, and funding secured, before permission is granted, has been withdrawn. Following a request from the Legal Department, we made a slight change to the original wording. This must have been acceptable because the Motion was published in the Council Summons. Now it has been withdrawn. What is going on? So much for openness and transparency”