Labour slam Tories over “constitutional chaos”

Barnet’s Labour Group have slammed two Tory committee Chairs for presiding over constitutional chaos after councillors were disallowed from submitting items to two committee meetings because the deadline for submission fell before councillors were appointed to the committees.

Three Labour councillors had submitted 'members’ items' to Performance & Contract Management Committee (meeting on 11 June) and Environment Committee (meeting on 12 June) within the deadline of 7 clear working days before the meeting, but Tory Chairs, Cllr Tony Finn and Cllr Dean Cohen both refused to allow them on to the agenda because the Annual Council Meeting had not met to appoint councillors to committees, and they didn't deem them 'urgent'.

Cllr Geof Cooke submitted the following item: To ask officers for an update report on the performance of both Capita contracts to date, and for clarification of the terms in each contract under which underperformance is tackled including details of review points in the contracts, financial penalties for underperformance, cost of exiting the contracts and an assessment of the implementation of both contracts.

Cllr Alan Schneiderman’s item was: To ask the committee to agree the following parking measures:

- To introduce at least 30 minutes free parking in all town centres

- To introduce cash meter parking for all current card-only meters

- To scrap the free councillors parking permit perk

Cllr Kath McGuirk’s item was: To ask for an update on the policy of hiring out parks for commercial let, including how many events have been held, what the income has been and how this money has been re-invested in parks and green spaces.

Labour’s Environment Spokesperson, Cllr Alan Schneiderman said: “We submitted our items in good faith and by the deadline, so after Monday night’s farce this really is spiteful and yet more constitutional chaos. The common sense approach would have been to allow our members’ items to be put before the first meeting of the committees to allow them to decide what to do with them – now we have to wait until the next cycle of meetings over a month later. The Tories seem desperate and determined to throw their weight around in order to avoid issues being brought to committee that will cause them trouble.

"And in both cases it really is down to the Chairs of both committees – both political groups have the same number of councillors on these committees, so the Tories are doing this with the casting vote of the Chair.”

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