Cancelling council meeting twice is 'bad for democracy', say Northampton Lib Dems

A Liberal Democrat councillor has written a formal complaint to the chief executive at Northampton Borough Council after a full council meeting has been cancelled twice.

Tuesday, 23rd April 2019, 6:52 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd April 2019, 7:03 pm
Councillor Sally Beardsworth is saying cancelled council meetings are bad for democracy.

One Northampton Liberal Democrat councillor has said residents have been left scratching their head over why they have not received their voting card for this year’s borough council election.

It was agreed by all parties that an extra meeting was required in April, which was due to take place on the 29th. However the Conservative party decided two weeks ago to push the meeting back to May 21 in order to get a report on a town council ready in time for the 29.

But the councillor said that there was no consultation with opposition local parties and councils could have done a better job of communicating that the elections have been cancelled.

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Councillor Sally Beardsworth (Lib Dem, Kingsthorpe), leader of the borough council’s Liberal Democrat group, said: “These are public meetings when the administration can be held to account by local residents and opposition parties.

"The meeting in April was arranged because the Conservative Government has cancelled the local election and would have prevented a three-month gap between meetings.”

The meeting has now been moved for a second time and will now be going ahead two months later, on June 3.

Councillor Beardsworth added: “This is bad for democracy and ignores the rights of residents and opposition councillors to hold the Conservative councillors to account for the way that they are running Northampton.

"I have written to the chief executive making an official complaint about the agreed council meeting in April being cancelled twice for the convenience of the Tory administration.

"We need more democracy, not less. And cancelling elections and cancelling council meetings is not the right way to treat the voters of Northampton.”

The Government cancelled the election because of the performance of the County Council and the Governments plans to disband all existing councils and set up two new unitary authorities in 2020, however the the Government is yet to confirm this.

Deputy Leader of Northampton Borough Council, Councillor Phil Larratt (Con, East Hunsbury), said the April meeting was omitted because it would have taken place too close to the planned election but the April meeting will still be going ahead in June.

"We realised the meeting had not been included in the diary and we realised there would be a gap from March to June which we thought would not be acceptable," councillor Harris said.

"The main item of business we need to conduct is the council governance review. Unfortunately that would not be ready in time for the 29th so we changed the date of the meeting. So the alternative date we set transpired again because of Easter. We would still not have enough time.

"Consequently we have put it off until a very early date in June. I admit the meetings will be a bit close together.

"We do not want to waste tax payers money having unnecessary meetings. Unfortunately we have had to change the date twice."