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Budget fury of York's Green party councillors
GREEN councillors who stormed out of York’s council budget meeting have accused city leaders of stifling debate.
Local party leader Coun Andy D’Agorne and his fellow Green councillor Dave Taylor angrily left the Guildhall chamber before Thursday night’s meeting closed after proposals to extend debating time were voted down, meaning their budget plans were not presented nor discussed.
They claimed members of the ruling Labour group used up time through “rambling and irrelevant” speeches and questioned why new electronic voting buttons in the council chamber were not used to speed up proceedings.
Council regulations state budget meetings must finish at 10pm unless councillors agree an extension.
The “guillotine” rule meant Labour’s budget was also not debated due to the time spent discussing proposed Conservative and Liberal Democrat amendments. Coun D’Agorne said his group’s proposals were the only opportunity to debate “ever-increasing” outsourcing of council services, and said their suggestions – including creating a council-run renewable energy company and more money for bus services – were not given a hearing.
He said: “I was appalled that, having sat all evening through debate on Tory and Lib Dem amendments, most Labour councillors were not prepared to have the decency to allow a further ten minutes to hear our amendment.
“It was the only amendment to criticise Labour over privatisation of elderly people’s homes and propose a major initiative to create green jobs and improve public transport.”
Coun D’Agorne said he believed more time would have been granted if voting buttons had been operating, claiming a recount on the extension vote allowed Labour time to manipulate its members to oppose it. The council’s deputy leader, Coun Tracey Simpson-Laing, said Labour were also disappointed not to have chance “to speak positively about our own budget due to running out of time”, and said Coun D’Agorne’s criticism was “wide of the mark” as the Lord Mayor ruled on when such meetings would end.
“Some councillors are carers and cannot sit endlessly in meetings, and thankfully 1am finishes are now a thing of the past,” she said.
“Group leaders are reviewing how meetings can operate more effectively in future. Coun D’Agorne will have the opportunity to have his say as part of that process.”