No debate and no questions, Tories exercise an abuse of power

Tony Newman LargeFollowing Tuesday night’s bruising council budget meeting, in which he led a walk-out by the opposition Labour group, TONY NEWMAN, pictured, in an exclusive column, says something has to change

Reflecting on the events in Croydon Town Hall this week leaves one wondering whether the glass is half empty or half full in terms of our local democracy.

On the positive side, that we have finally opened up the full council meetings to live broadcast coverage again is a good thing, as is the fact that at this week’s budget meeting, both local trades unions, disability groups and others were present and making their voices heard, even if they had to witness the increasingly discredited Croydon Tories vote through their cuts budget at the same time as increasing our Council Tax.

The challenge though is how far we still have to go to make Croydon a truly transparent, open and lively local democracy.

Because on Tuesday night we also saw nothing less than an abuse of power, as the supposedly neutral Mayor, who chairs the council meetings, allowed the Tory front bench to announce the collapse of their flagship libraries privatisation policy but then banned Labour councilors from asking questions on the issue.

This libraries sell-off involves millions of pounds of our money as Council Tax-payers being potentially handed over to Laings, who are building the Conservatives’ luxury council HQ, as they are, in Councillor Mike Fisher’s opinion, the best people to run our much-loved public libraries.

It is a situation that is, frankly, a disgrace. Labour councillors will be calling an emergency meeting of the council to expose further this sordid tale.

An incoming Labour council in 2014 is committed to reinstating immediately live webcasts of all council meetings and encouraging continued broadcasting.

Equally importantly, we will publish all papers for all council meetings at least a week in advance and we will expose immediately for public scrutiny all the remaining papers that conceal the truth behind the Laing contract, both in terms of the £140 million luxury  council offices and, if it ever proceeds, the libraries sell-off.

Enough is enough. Something has to change, and it will.

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2 Responses to No debate and no questions, Tories exercise an abuse of power

  1. In the meantime Mr Newman – may I call you Tony? – how about a referral of this whole libraries farce to the District Auditor?

  2. I agree, Mr Callam. I am sure that Tony is already considering the matter.
    I would also add to the referral:
    1. Youth Services mismanagement;
    2. Cost of fake consultations;
    3. Cost of Council properties mismanaged in the borough (Shirley cannot be the only place with three empty properties, now newly boarded. You can see a picture of one of them in uploaded yesterday).
    4. and, dulcis in fundo, the HQ.

    Tony, I am so happy to hear “Enough is enough. Something has to change, and it will.”

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