On the day of North East Derbyshire District Council’s Annual General Meeting, neither Labour nor the Tories had any intention of allowing representing the people who elect them to get in the way of their political games.
Despite being one of the biggest single issues affected our towns and villages – representing both a significant health risk as well as a public nuisance – both the Labour and Conservative groups refused to support the Lib Dem motion to protect children’s play and recreation areas through the use of Public Space Protection Orders.
Both Labour and the Tories again failed to support a Lib Dem motion calling for the increased availability of online billing (for those who wish to use it) – in order to reduce costs and provide residents and businesses with greater choice. The Tory refusal is all the more surprising given that leader, Cllr Martin Thacker, proposed a reduction to paper-based services in order to balance the Conservative Group’s alternative budget back in February.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, both parties also failed to support the Lib Dem motion to livestream all council meetings, to give the electorate the opportunity to scrutinise the behaviour of their councillors – given that, rather than support motions which would have a positive impact in residents’ lives and pockets. Labour and the Tories would rather spend considerable time trying to out politic each other in terms of which party should hold the chair and vice-chair positions on each of the various sub-committees.
Despite their claims to represent people, based on their performances today, both Labour and the Tories clearly continue to put tribal politics before the needs of their constituents.
Lib Dem Cllr David Hancock expressed his disappointment at the behaviour of both parties:
“Despite political differences, each of us has been elected to represent the people of North East Derbyshire. Every week, I have phone calls about dog-fouling in the neighbourhood. Whenever, I’m out canvassing – it’s a subject that always comes up.
“Likewise the cost of printing bills and invoices, when many people prefer to do things online. Even if only a handful of people choose to move to paperless billing that’s a financial saving to the council. Instead Labour and the Tories would rather spend time debating which councillors are nominated for chair and vice-chair – roles which are pretty meaningless to the general public; but, of course, positions which attract Special Responsibility Allowances for those appointed.”