TORY OPPOSITION LEADER SLAMS LAMBETH OVER CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES: Amazing attack on new Mayor – “None of the opposition members are going to be bullied or intimidated.”
Lambeth’s Conservative opposition leader has slammed Lambeth over its lack of democratic unaccountability – and the new Mayor – in the wake of last week’s abandoned council meeting.
Cllr Tim Briggs says they only heard about the changes to the council constitution at last week’s meeting AFTER the deadline for motions for last week’s meeting had expired.
Those changes were pushed through ‘on the nod’ after the Mayor abandoned the meeting following an intervention by a libraries campaigner.
The changes mean that, in future, there will be a limit on how many councillors can speak on a motion:
In a statement Cllr Briggs said: “Unfortunately the new Mayor does not understand that she is no longer a Labour councillor.”At council meetings she tries to prevent non-Labour Opposition members from speaking, makes comments indicating her disapproval when opposition members make requests at council meetings (for example for proper procedure to be followed), and tries to prevent opposition members from speaking.
“She attends outside meetings supporting Labour candidates,
“Unfortunately this is what has happened in Lambeth with Labour’s huge majority – local democracy is continually under attack because Labour only cares about looking strong and pushing through its agenda.
“This is also why Labour took away all our office and administrative support so we have no officer help – Labour have all sorts of council officers, special advisers and spin doctors.
“We heard from officers about the proposed constitutional changes after the deadline for motions had expired.
“Labour had drafted motions to be debated – we had not, as no changes had been mentioned to us.
“Council officers confirmed that the Labour whip had been advised to speak to the opposition Conservatives about changing the constitution, as the convention required, so that motions could now be debated, but refused to do so.
“Labour then got upset when we refused to agree to the changes or debate motions at the meeting, the Labour chief whip blaming council officers, and the Mayor giving Labour members free rein to shout at us.
“None of the opposition members are going to be bullied or intimidated.
“Again we see a Labour council that refuses to consult properly, then tries to blame others for its failings – just as it did with libraries, Cressingham Gardens and Loughborough Junction.”
Note: Lambeth council leader Cllr Lib Peck and the Mayor of Lambeth’s office have both been asked for a response to Cllr Briggs comments by News From Crystal Palace. If we get one, News From Crystal Palace will let you know. – Ed.
UPDATE News From Crystal Palace has received the following from Labour chief whip Cllr Paul Gadsby:
To take the points in turn, because there are a number of inaccuracies in what you have been given:
The council record shows there were 38 Labour councillors at the meeting, not 29. Councillors give apologies and are occasionally late for the start of a meeting for a number of reasons, including important local community meetings and attending their surgeries. Recently, Lambeth’s Tory councillors failed to turn up entirely to debates on Syrian refugees and the future of local government.
I did speak to the opposition in advance of the meeting after I asked them to contact me directly to set up an appropriate time for a conversation and they were informed with over three weeks’ notice of this change (and should have been informed earlier but for a mistake by officers). This is more than adequate time to prepare. It is worth reiterating that this change gave much more time to the Opposition to debate issues – despite the frankly bizarre claims from Cllr Briggs.
“Unfortunately, this is a gross misrepresentation of what happened at Lambeth council’s meeting last week. “It is a shame to see such unprecedented attacks on the non-partisan Mayor by the Tory leader. The Mayor is guided through her role presiding in the meetings by officers and any claim of bias is absurd.
“Last Wednesday, the council were due to debate two motions in the substantive part of the meeting – one for the Labour group and one for the Opposition. “This is equal time for the motions submitted by both parties, despite the huge difference in democratic representation between the two (59 councillors to three).
“Astonishingly, Cllr Briggs chose to spend the first part of the meeting bemoaning the decision to debate his own party’s motion. “We are happy to debate our positive plans for Clapham Common which they oppose – it is a shame he does not consider the concerns of Clapham residents worthy of debate.
“Perhaps the leader of Lambeth Tories should spend more time considering how to debate issues of substance to Lambeth residents, rather than attempting to stop debate or trying to use taxpayers money to get a paid member of staff for him, which he has been lobbying for constantly in the past two years.”
To which Cllr Briggs responds: “There were 29 Labour members counted.
“Cllr Gadsby refused to correspond, even with officers, until a day or so before the meeting. “The rest is the usual spin from a failing council which is not even trusted by its own supporters.”