Croydon Labour has a long and dishonourable history of stage management and using procedural means to stifle debate, but hit new lows last night.
Firstly the Mayor – Labour stalwart Cllr Bernadete Khan – announced that as we apparently had a packed agenda, no member of the public would be allowed to ask a supplementary question. As it turned out that would only affect one questioner who had turned up to ask why the council was consistently failing to collect his and his neighbours’ bins.
A second member of the public who had hoped to ask about the council’s changes to the pension fund had her question ruled out of order before the meeting even started.
This pension fund issue relates to the council deciding to stop making regular contributions to the pensions fund and instead promise to gift it some housing in the future (see separate story).
That decision was nodded through later in the meeting with the opposition’s request for a debate on it declined on the grounds that the report was authored in the name of a council officer rather than the pensions committee itself, and it was therefore constitutionally impossible to debate it!
The Mayor could have elected to allow a debate – or even some questions to the report’s sponsoring cabinet member – but chose not to.
Going back to the public questions, the Mayor also announced that as the meeting was too full no written questions from the public would be taken either. In the council’s constitution public questions is allowed 30 minutes. Last night it was closed down in just over five.
You’ll be interested to know that this packed meeting, with an apparently over-sized agenda closed at 9.35, 25 minutes early.
Still, at least Labour members got to knock off early for their drinkies at the Spread Eagle…….
Perhaps the moral of the story is, if you want an answer from Croydon’s Labour administration don’t bother with the council meeting processes, just turn up at the pub at about 9.45 on a council meeting night and refuse to go away until they answer your question!