Labour councillors in South Gloucestershire are challenging the culture of concealment at the Tory-run council after local campaigners released Freedom of Information evidence that council officials had suggested that problems with a housing development could be ‘fudged’.
Campaigners from Thornbury Residents Against Poorly Planned Development shared the evidence at the Council meeting last night, and this was the first time that opposition Labour councillors had seen it. Labour called for an adjournment to consider the correspondence, and it was only then that the ruling Tories were forced to attempt an explanation.
Now Labour Group Leader Councillor Pat Rooney has written to the Chief Executive asking for a frank discussion on the way the council shares information with councillors.
Councillor Rooney says:
“Labour councillors are shocked and angry to discover what officials had been saying, and that we had to find out from members of the public. This has further dented our confidence in the way the council is operating under the Tories. It is reminiscent of a major row we had over Filton Airfield in 2011 when internal information only came to light because of a FOI request.
The Conservatives desperately scrambled to supply some sort of explanation only after they had been exposed publicly, by sharing information that they had been sitting on for a month. This secrecy reveals yet again that there is a culture of concealment at the council. I thank the Thornbury campaigners for the revelation without which we would still be in the dark.
I have today written to the Chief Executive requesting a discussion on the internal sharing of information with opposition councillors. It is unacceptable that we should have to find out critical information about our own council from members of the public.”