LABOUR chiefs say the Tory administration ‘hijacked’ a meeting to debate the sale of County Hall in Chester.
Opposition leader Cllr Derek Bateman (Ellesmere Port, Central and Westminster) had raised a motion calling on the Conservative Executive to ‘think again’ over the proposed sale of the building to the University of Chester.
Angry Labour activists, led by former county councillor David Robinson, demonstrated against the sale on the steps of County Hall in the late afternoon.
But it was late into the evening before councillors got to grips with the issue after the Conservatives placed two major issues on the agenda.
These were debated before Cllr Bateman’s motion, despite protests at the outset by Labour deputy leader Cllr Pat Merrick, (Ellesmere Port, Grange and Rossmore).
Cllr Merrick felt the public were being treated with contempt and, as the clock ticked past 9pm, Cllr Bateman agreed.
“This should have been the first item on the agenda,” he protested.
Cllr Bateman continued: ”The Conservatives refused to bring forward the item and deal with it first since it was the first item on the agenda following the Labour Group requisition for the meeting.
“They hijacked the whole agenda by putting on two other items hoping that the public present would get fed up and go.”
Although Labour have described the cost of the move to HQ as ‘huge’, council leader Cllr Mike Jones (Con, Broxton) insisted:”There will be significant savings and the cost to taxpayers at worst will be nil.”
New offices would cost £24m – far more than cost of purchasing the space at HQ, Cllr Jones said.
“This is an excellent deal for the council and the council tax payers,” he added.