Wiltshire Council criticised over cabinet 'secrecy'
7:00am Tuesday 18th September 2012 in By Chris Melvin
Wiltshire Council has been criticised for passing new rules which make it harder for councillors to object to decisions made by the council’s cabinet.
The new rules change the previous system whereby a group of three of more councillors could “call in” a decision if they believe decisions were inappropriate.
However now only those councillors on the Scrutiny Management Committee can call in suspected bad decisions.
The Liberal Democrats have accused the Conservative council of stifling democratic accountability.
The plan means 39 of Wiltshire's Councillors cannot now call in descisions made by the cabinet.
Liberal Democrat leader Jon Hubbard said: "This is the Conservative commitment to democracy in Wiltshire, trying to stifle criticism of bad decision-making. Wiltshire Council pays £13,000 per year to councillors, but has removed their power to hold the Cabinet to account for what they are doing. What do they expect these councillors to do now?"
Councillor Hubbard is currently seeking legal opinion on whether the move is lawful.
Jane Scott, Wiltshire Council leader, said: “Wiltshire Council has and always will be an open and transparent organisation, and we want to give everyone the chance to have their say.
“The revised overview and scrutiny arrangements, including the arrangements regarding call-ins, were agreed by councillors from all parties at the full council meeting in May this year, following extensive consultation. This was a transparent and democratic process which reflects the statutory requirements for overview and scrutiny.”