Labour councillors to boycott ‘secret’ super council meetings

Cllr Rhodes: "By remaining within Cross Party Working Group, Labour members will be legitimizing a flawed process which is designed to mislead the public of Nottinghamshire."

County_Hall_Nottingham
PICTURED: County Hall

Labour councillors have today revealed they will stop attending ‘secret’ meetings being held to discuss the future of Gedling Borough Council and other smaller authorities.

The Labour group said they feel the meetings, which are being held behind closed doors, are being used to ‘legitimize a flawed process designed to mislead the public’, and that the meetings were not ‘fair and open’.

But the Conservative leader of the council, Kay Cutts, said she was surprised by the decision, and that people in Nottinghamshire should not be ‘misled by claims that the current local government structure is sustainable’.

Nottinghamshire County County is currently working on a plan which would see Gedling Borough Council and six other district and borough councils, and the county council itself abolished, and one or two new councils set up to cover the entire county.

Supporters say it would streamline council services by reducing duplication, and could save £20 to £30 million a year.

But critics fear it would erode local decision making and accountability, and could cost a large amount to set up.

While the plans are being drawn up, the council set up meetings to keep councillors informed of the progress.

Pictured: Cllr Alan Rhodes

The BBC’s Local Democracy Reporting Service asked to report on the meetings – known as cross party working groups – but the request was denied.

Now, County Councillor Alan Rhodes, the leader of the Labour group on the county council, has withdrawn his party from the working groups.

He said: “I assumed when I accepted the invitation to take part, that the process would be fair and open, that we would be treated with respect and that our involvement would be a positive experience.

“Regrettably, it has become clear to me that any notion of serious cross party working in this instance is false. Councillor Kay Cutts, the Conservative leader of the county council has shown that she has no interest in considering any alternative options to her own plans to abolish all district and borough councils in the county and creating one council for the whole of Nottinghamshire.

“Her recent interviews with the press have been riddled with inaccurate comments, shown disrespect for the work of our district and borough council partners and undermined the integrity of the cross party working group.

PICTURED: Cllr Kay Cutts

“I believe that she is clearly attempting to achieve her own objectives through a campaign of fear, by wrongly suggesting that her way is the only way for the county council to avoid bankruptcy.

READ MORE:  People in Gedling borough to have say on 'super council' plans in local consultation

“In doing this she is deliberately misleading the public by omitting to say that any savings from devolution are several years away.

“Furthermore, the first phase of the consultation process – which the cross party working group had no influence on – is in our view unfairly biased in favour of a unitary council; with questions that appear designed to lead people in that direction.

“It is my belief therefore that by remaining within the Cross Party Working Group, Labour members will be legitimizing a flawed process which is designed to mislead the public of Nottinghamshire.

“I have therefore taken the decision to withdraw my members from this process with immediate effect’.



The leader of the council, Councillor Kay Cutts, said: “I am disappointed by Councillor Rhodes’ decision to withdraw from the working group meetings.  The most recent scheduled meeting had to be postponed because he was on holiday and did not wish to send a substitute.

“I agreed that we would look for another date to suit his diary, so his decision today took me by surprise.”

“Our unitary authority proposals are a constructive plan to tackle the council’s £54 million budget gap without cutting popular services over the coming years, such as libraries and the Local Improvement Scheme.

“I don’t mind people disagreeing with that plan and arguing in favour of the current structure, but in that case they need to be honest with people about what their alternative plan is and what services they would cut.

“Labour has a history of opposing things without setting out an alternative. The onus is on them to show how they will save £54 million.

“It is nonsense for Councillor Rhodes to say I would not consider alternatives to one council for Nottinghamshire, because it’s already in the public domain that we are examining up to seven different options.

“This is not a campaign of fear but a campaign setting out the truth of the harsh reality of rising demand against falling income.

Cllr Cutts added: “I sincerely hope people will have their say by taking part in phase one of the FutureNotts consultation at www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/futurenotts or by filling in a form at your local library.”

The next meeting of the cross party working group is scheduled to be held on Wednesday, November 14.

3 Comments

  1. Keep decision making as local as possible.

    This is purely a self delusional vanity project.
    A biased survey.
    Any possible savings will be swallowed up by the legal processes involved in setting up a unitary authority.
    Many years will pass before any actual financial savings appear.
    How are decisions such as planning on your road going to be be sensibly made by a planning committee containing councillors from all over Nottinghamshire.

    Councillor Cutts is only interested in grabbing power, not improving services for local residents.

    • What really disappoints me is that people are trying to politicise this – its not about Tories vs Labour, its about how our local services are run. Personally, I’d much rather they keep my library open and do away with some politicians and council managers than vice-versa. Its up to us to decide who runs the new council when we vote, not Kay Cutts, John Clarke or Allan Rhodes.

  2. Merge the councils and let Netherfield become an entuty on its own. They can guvern themselves, raise cash and spend it on what they like – probably fags

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