30th Nov, 2020

Coventry Labour council accused of unconstitutional 'outrage' and 'blocking' democratic debate

Felix Nobes 3rd Sep, 2019

COVENTRY Tory councillors have branded the Labour-ruled council ‘undemocratic’ for suspending questions and motions amid a by-election.

They say the move is a ‘constitutional outrage’.

Since last week, Labour councillors have been joining in protests and branding Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament ‘undemocratic’ and ‘unconstitutional’.

But Tory councillors have accused them of hypocrisy, pointing to a council decision to block certain types of questions and motions from being debated at today’s full council meeting.

They say the move disproportionately blocks Conservative opposition questions and debates.

Council officers say this is due to protocol ahead of the Wainbody by-election on Thursday – called after the sudden death of long-serving Conservative member Gary Crookes.

Leader of the city Tory group Coun Gary Ridley tweeted in response to some Labour councillors’ criticisms of Mr Johnson: “From a party that’s stopped us asking questions at next week’s full council and blocked discussion of our motion, but is still allowed to bring their items forward!

“It’s a constitutional outrage.

“This failing Labour administration is completely undemocratic. #StopTheCoup”

Labour councillors have been joined by #StopTheCoup campaigners from the city Liberal Democrats and Greens in condemning Mr Johnson’s controversial suspension of Parliament ahead of a potential no-deal Brexit, which some MPs want to block in the Commons.

Conservative Coun Pete Male tweeted last week: “Totally agree. Next week’s full council meeting will be an utter shambles. “No reason why it couldn’t have been pushed back a week! Coventry deserves better!”

And Tory Coun Tim Mayer added: “It could have been but Coventry Labour see it as a way to avoid debate and the executives don’t give a hoot.”

Responding to claims, a council spokesperson said: “A by-election will be taking place in Coventry on September 5 for the Wainbody Ward.

“During a designated pre-election period there are legal restrictions for public bodies including the local authority – this means that the local authority must take extra care during this period to ensure the council is not communicating or using council facilities or resources that could be seen to be affecting public support for a political party.

“Arrangements have therefore been put in place ahead of full council on September 3 to ensure compliance with these rules which allows business as usual to proceed but adjourns any matters that may impact directly on the Wainbody Ward or are potentially overtly political to move to the next scheduled meeting in October.”

Some council sources told us they could not remember the same restrictions in previous years for Coventry City Council meetings.

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