By David Miller
COUNCIL meetings need to be reformed to stop ruling party politicians asking “planted” questions and take issues seriously, Tory leader Robert Light has demanded.
He spoke out after being outraged by the alleged antics of Labour ward members at a recent council meeting in Huddersfield.
Among the ‘soft’ questions asked was Batley West Labour councillor Gwen Lowe’s point to council leader Mehboob Khan about Government spending cuts.
And a question about Kirklees College was put to regeneration chief Coun Peter McBride by Coun Masood Ahmed (Lab, Dewsbury South).
Coun McBride responded with an answer criticising Coun Khizar Iqbal (Con) for claims that Dewsbury is neglected in favour of Huddersfield.
Now Coun Light wants the practice of asking ‘soft’ questions to be banned and replaced by more serious scrutiny.
He said: “The administration should put forward its view and it should then be held to account in debate.
“There should also be proper arrangements for councillors and the public to raise other issues that are of concern to them. But that’s not happening. I can’t remember when a cabinet member last answered a serious question. Many don’t even turn up.”
The Tories and Lib Dems tabled eight questions at the meeting in total about schools ñ none of which could be answered.
Neither of the two cabinet members for children’s services, Coun Peter O’Neill (Lab, Batley West) and Coun Cath Harris, attended the meeting.
Lib Dem leader Coun Kath Pinnock (Cleckheaton) and Green Party leader Andrew Cooper mocked the situation on Twitter.
Coun Light added: “Labour are acting almost like a communist dictatorship. What they’re scared of is real debate.
“It’s a weak administration. They know that if the floor is opened up to real debate the other parties will run the table on them.”
Coun Khan hit back and said: “Coun Light admits that when the Tories ran the council they used it as a ‘tool’ to put forward their views.
“So why has he suddenly sound this unacceptable? Tory councillors have ample opportunities at these meetings to get their points across.”
Tory AttackFriday 19th August 2011
By David Miller