Liberal Democrat Councillors at Luton Borough Council have branded the New Labour administration at the Town Hall as Control Freaks.
The claims came after the Council’s AGM on Tuesday, when Labour took every Chair and Vice-Chair post on every Scrutiny Committee. Liberal Democrat Councillors are concerned that Labour will now use their majority in the Town Hall to avoid effective scrutiny of their actions.
Liberal Democrats have always believed that the Scrutiny Committees, whose primary function is to hold the Executive to account, should be chaired by members of the opposition parties. Under Liberal Democrat rule both Labour and the Tories were offered Chairs of Scrutiny.
Liberal Democrat Councillor Martin Pantling said:
“When we ran the Council, we always believed Scrutiny Chairs should be drawn from other parties. That’s what democracy means – the ability to scrutinise decisions properly and fairly.
“Sadly, having been in power for just ten minutes, Labour showed how they mean to go on. They cannot stand openness, debate, criticism, or to be straight with the public. We will now see Chairs of key Committees like Finance and Audit, which should be keeping a close eye on things, trying hard to keep things under wraps.
“What’s most astounding is the sheer hypocrisy of it. Two years ago, Councillor Hazel Simmons – then Leader of the Opposition – marched all of her Chairs out of Scrutiny when we gave one Scrutiny Chair to another group. As Council Leader she has now seized every single Scrutiny Chair and Vice-Chair for Labour, despite their running the Council. This is a disgraceful start by a shameless new Executive.”