Governance proposals cause disagreement in Redbridge Council chambers

PUBLISHED: 15:26 17 March 2017 | UPDATED: 13:32 20 March 2017

Redbridge Town Hall. Picture: Redbridge Council

Redbridge Town Hall. Picture: Redbridge Council

Justin Setterfield

A lengthy debate on changes to the structure of Redbridge Council saw opposition councillors accuse the administration of lacking transparency.

The governance review, instigated by the borough’s Labour administration, sees a number of changes to the structure of the council.

Ahead of the meeting, councillors had proposed 12 amendments to the report, including one by council leader Cllr Jas Athwal, of which three were passed.

This included a proposal for officers to have increased spending power meaning only proposals over £500,000 would go before elected councillors.

An amendment by proposed by Cllr Nolan (Con, Snaresbrook) and seconded by Cllr Paul Canal (Con, Bridge), which was successfully passed, saw the amount reduced to £250,000.

The other two amendments, by Cllr Athwal and Cllr Nick Hayes (Con, Fullwell) related to the order of meetings and time limits on questions by members.

The two-hour debate was peppered with criticism by opposition councillors, including Liberal Democrat group leader, Cllr Ian Bond,

He said: “There needs to be more time to look at these amendments, this is not just in the interests of the public but also councillors.”

Cllr Bond’s main point of contention was to remove the proposal that a member of the governing party could sit as chair or vice-chair of the scrutiny committee.

The proposal was passed, with Ilford North MP Wes Streeting rebutting the amendment, adding that administration led scrutiny could be equally effective.

The changes will now be reviewed in one year’s time with Cllr Athwal reiterating last night that the changes “bring the borough into the 21st century.”

At the beginning of the meeting last night, in Redbridge Town Hall, in Ilford, councillors across the chamber united when a petition concerning the closure of the Royal Mail Office in South Woodford was presented.

Cllr Athwal agreed to rewrite to the chief executive, raising a number of ways to assist residents ahead of the closure, including the creation of a nearby pickup point.

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