‘Dagger through the heart of democracy’: Row erupts as Redbridge Council removes layer of budget scrutiny

Cllr Paul Canal

Cllr Paul Canal - Credit: Archant

Redbridge Council has been accused of putting a “dagger through the heart of democracy” after voting to change the way it scrutinises its budget proposals.

On Thursday night the council voted in favour of allowing initial budget proposals to bypass its service committees.

Instead, the committees would only get to see formal budget proposals.

A report presented to full council at Redbridge Town Hall said the changes would “facilitate a balance between timely consultation” while making decision-making more efficient.

But opposition councillors hit out at the plans, with leader of the Conservative group Cllr Paul Canal (Con, Bridge) branding them a “dagger through the heart of democracy”.

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“It’s not how a responsible council consults, it’s not how a responsible council engages and it’s not how a responsible council should be run,” said Cllr Canal.

He urged Labour councillors to join Conservatives in opposing the changes.

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And Cllr Robert Cole (Con, Clayhall) branded the change a “retrograde step”.

But responding, deputy leader of the council Cllr Wes Streeting (Lab, Aldborough) reassured councillors.

“There will be lots of debate about the budget. There will be debates in this chamber and debates at local forums,” he told the meeting.

“We will go at our pace and we will do it the way we want to.”

The proposals were passed, with 34 voting in favour and 25 voting against.

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