MOVES by Tory councillors to short circuit discussions of Labour budget proposals have been branded as ‘disgraceful’.
The condemnation came at Cheshire West and Chester Council’s annual budget debate in Winsford.
Labour leader Cllr Derek Bateman (Central and Westminster) exploded when Tory leader Cllr Mikes Jones (Con, Broxton) made his move after Conservatives had rejected four Labour amendments.
“We have taken about half an hour for each amendment,” Cllr Jones told chairman Cllr John Ebo (Con, Hoole and Newton) “and I understand there are another three.
“I would like to move to a vote on the budget rather than be here all night”.
Calling for that to be seconded, he was backed by his finance chief Cllr Les Ford (Con, Frodsham and Helsby).
Cllr Bateman rose to his feet to argue the move was in conflict with the council’s constitution.
“We have a right to move amendments to the budget,” he insisted.
“You cannot just say that because you don’t like that, because it is taking too long, you are just going to move the budget.
“We have the right to move to the vote as well”, retorted Cllr Jones.
Cllr Ebo sought advice from the council’s head of legal services Mr Simon Goacher who said such a motion could go forward unless Cllr Ebo believed there had been insufficient debate.
Cllr Reggie Jones (Lab, Blacon) argued it would be “highly improper for this annual debate to be short circuited because some of the Conservative leadership do not like being challenged”.
“We have a right to bring this council to account”, he fumed.
Cllr Ebo accepted the council had spent “a long time on these matters” but suggested another half hour should be allocated.
The outcome was Cllr Bateman agreed to withdraw two of the remaining amendments to allow debate on a Labour proposal the council tax rise proposed by the Tories should be halved.
Cllr Justin Madders (Lab, Central and Westminster) commented: “I am disappointed the Conservative administration is so arrogant they do not wish to hear what we have to say but that doesn’t really surprise me”.
Cllr Bateman described the move as “disgraceful” and “not acceptable”.
He indicated he would take the issue further to avoid a recurrence.