Anger at 'arrogant' decision to cancel July council meeting
- Credit: Neil Didsbury
Council leaders have been accused of stifling democracy after pulling the plug on this month's full county council.
Originally scheduled to take place on Monday, July 19, Norfolk County Council took the decision to axe the meeting after it became clear it would cost more than £12,000 to hire an alternative venue to County Hall.
With a degree of uncertainty still surrounding whether the meeting could be held at the Martineau Lane headquarters or - like meetings the months prior - it would need to be held at the Norfolk Showground.
And after it emerged the one-off cost of hiring the venue and fitting it with all the necessary equipment would cost more than £12,000, - a cost bosses say would eclipse the per-meeting bill for the previous block booking of the venue - the decision was made to postpone any business to September's meeting.
However, opposition councillors have slammed the decision, saying it had blocked any opportunity for fresh debate.
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Emma Corlett, deputy leader of the Labour group, said: "'Cancelling council means we can't challenge the decision to award the £200m Western Link contract to a Spanish company.
"We'd rather see the money spent on creating local businesses and jobs, investing in public transport - especially to support young people to access education work and social life - and recover from the pandemic than a road scheme that damages our county and exports profits."
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Brian Watkins, Liberal Democrat group leader, said: "This is hardly democracy at work. The council should not be short of things to talk about at a time like this.
"After all, they recently organised a special meeting about the Western Link road when it suited their purposes. This must not set a precedent for the future.''
And Jamie Osborn, on behalf of the Green group, said: "The decision by the Conservatives to cancel the July meeting before opposition councillors have had the chance to submit motions and questions speaks volumes about the arrogant and disengaged approach they take to democracy."
But a County Hall spokesman said: “It was considered that no business scheduled for the July meeting was sufficiently urgent to justify the cost. Any motions that have been submitted will of course be heard at the next full council meeting on September 27."