A DECISION over creating a new parish council for Finham has been delayed by Coventry council’s ruling Labour councillors.
They faced Tory opposition accusations of undemocratically ripping up the council’s rules, or constitution, when voting to put a key decision back until January.
Finham residents attending today’s full council meeting had expected a decision on whether Coventry City Council would recommend the go-ahead to create a Finham Parish Council, which has been years in the making.
It follows a recent ballot of residents in the area which returned a 73 per cent ‘Yes’ vote from a 38 per cent turnout among 3,850 voters eligible to vote.
The ballot was triggered after more than 700 people signed a petition in favour of creating the new parish council, which could have responsibility for anything from cutting grass verges, to street cleaning, parking and noise abatement.
The law requires a ballot and a public consultation before a council in the wider area decides whether or not to recommend the parish council be created.
A full Coventry council meeting in June had appeared to vote in favour of proceedures set out in a report which would require a second public consultation following any recommendation by the council.
But the council’s Labour deputy leader Phil Townshend said the report had not been correct, because the law only required a second consultation if the council recommended creating a parish council.
He said holding a new public consultation before January, in which the correct procedures were made clear, was now advised by council lawyers.
Council lawyer Christine Forde told the council that, following concerns raised by opposition councillor Tim Sawdon about the June report’s wording, she advised the council should effectively revoke June’s decision. She added the council’s constitution permitted such a move.
Tories cried foul, claiming it was anti-democratic in ripping up council rules, or “standing orders”, which made some previous council decisions binding.
Conservative councillor Tim Sawdon said: “There is little point in having standing roders if the controlling group can just dismiss them when they like it.”
Former Tory council leader Ken Taylor told the Labour majority: “Democracy in this council is going out the window. There’s going to be a point when we in the opposition won’t need to turn up because you can do it all beforehand.”
Coun Townshend accused Tory Tim Sawdon of making a “pre-election protest.” He added: “We haven’t got the report right.
“We are admitting that and we’re saying we need to put it right. We all approved the constitution.”
He added: “When the council makes its decision I want it to be clearly understood what the process is.”
The area which would be covered by the new parish council is bordered by Green Lanes, the A45 Stonebridge Highway, Gretna Road and Howes Lane. It covers two polling districts in Coventry council’s Conservative-held Wainbody ward.