Stevenage Liberal Democrat leader calls election of scrutiny chairman a ‘farce’

Cllr Robin Parker has hit out at the Labour-controlled Stevenage Borough Council over not electing o

Cllr Robin Parker has hit out at the Labour-controlled Stevenage Borough Council over not electing opposition parties as scrutiny chairman - Credit: Archant

A DECISION not to elect a member of the opposition parties as chairman of any scrutiny committee on a council has been labelled a farce.

Councillor Robin Parker, leader of Stevenage Liberal Democrats, has hit out at members of the Labour-controlled Stevenage Borough Council for refusing to appoint either a Liberal Democrat or Conservative as chairman of a scrutiny committee at last Wednesday’s annual council meeting.

Cllr Parker said: “The basic problem, which Labour repeatedly fail to grasp, is that if all the scrutiny bodies continue to be chaired by Labour councillors – as they are – on a council which has had a huge Labour majority since the 1950s, then you will not get the most effective scrutiny, and the best value for money, for local council taxpayers.

“I have challenged the Labour leader to allow just one scrutiny committee to be chaired for just one year by some member of the opposition, but this has always been met with a flat refusal. An independent review some years ago suggested exactly this approach, but Labour refused to implement it. The Liberal Democrats refuse to support a continuation of this farce.”

Leader of the council, Sharon Taylor, said: “All the vice chairs for scrutiny committees have gone to the opposition, but all councillors are charged with making sure we are implementing services that our residents want and in a way which is value for money. All councillors have that responsibility.”

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