Lib Dem fury after Tories block Council openness vote

Local Liberal Democrats have reacted angrily after Conservatives at the Town Hall blocked proposals which would have made it easier for members of the public to grill Councillors.

The Lib Dems presented plans to improve openness and democracy at Council meetings to the Council on September 9th. Ideas included making it easier for members of the public to ask questions, but the Conservatives in charge of Bury Council voted against these plans, and rejected opposition calls for stronger scrutiny of their actions.

Reacting to the vote, St mary’s ward Councillor Richard Baum, who is also the Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate for Bury North, said “I am bitterly disappointed that the Tories have turned their backs on openness and democracy. Bury is way behind the leading Councils in terms of public access. Scrutiny in Bury is flawed, and everyone admits it. The proposals we put forward were measured, but they were rejected, and we have moved no further forward.

Liberal Democrat ideas about letting Councillors and members of the public see meeting minutes from the Local Area Partnerships, the Strategic Partnership and county-wide bodies in one place were also turned down by the Conservatives.

Cllr Baum said “Why are the Conservatives running away from proposals which simply make it easier for everyone to hold Council accountable? I am genuinely upset that we can’t become a leading light in terms of openness. The leadership had a real opportunity to change things for the better last night, and fluffed it. The Leader of Bury Council lives in Rossendale, where members of the public can ask Councillors whatever they like, without giving notice. Here in Bury the Tories ask for almost a week’s notice before someone can ask a question at a meeting, and that’s not good enough.”

Cllr Baum concluded “This has really exposed what the Tories are all about – secrecy and power, rather than being properly accountable to the people of Bury.”

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