Labour councillors in South Gloucestershire have expressed their disappointment that leading Conservative councillors seem “prepared to hide behind officers”.
At South Gloucestershire’s Council meeting last night, the ruling Tories voted through a number of changes to the Constitution to reflect their assumption of political control now that they have an overall majority following May’s election. South Gloucestershire had been a balanced or ‘hung’ council for the preceding 12 years.
The old Constitution stated that senior councillors who were asked policy questions could refer them to a paid officer to answer, and Labour last night attempted to remove this option. Labour’s attempt was voted down by the ruling Conservatives, and so the option remains in the rules.
Speaking after the meeting, Labour’s leader Councillor Pat Rooney said:
“The Conservatives now run the Council with a majority and hold all of the committee chairs, so they are now solely responsible for decisions over the next four years. They have made changes to the rules to give their chairs of committees more authority for policy development, and to us it seems entirely consistent that they should be accountable to other councillors and the public who table questions in the prescribed way for them to answer.
The Conservatives seem happy to give the impression that that are prepared to hide behind officers when it suits them, so we will be monitoring this over the coming months and years and will call them out if they do choose to delegate difficult answers down to employees.”