The independent London newspaper

Rivals team up in calls for more scrutiny

Conservative group leader and Labour backbencher join together to restore full set of council business

04 March, 2021 — By Richard Osley

Tory group leader Councillor Oliver Cooper

AN unlikely couple have come together at the Town Hall to demand more scrutiny of the council’s performance.

Councillor Oliver Cooper, the leader of the Tories in Camden, joined Labour councillor Paul Tomlinson in trying to get an emergency motion heard this week, asking for a full programme of council meetings to be restored.

Despite being on rival benches at the Town Hall and holding different political perspectives, both think Camden should be restoring a “full schedule of regular scrutiny committees”.The request to debate the motion, however, at this week’s full council meeting was not approved. It had asked for councillors to “meet remotely as long as necessary and in person as soon as possible”.

Cllr Cooper said “day-to-day administration isn’t scrutinised at all, so huge changes to residents’ lives without their democratic representatives having a say,” adding: “That turns the council into a £1bn-a-year train with no brakes, and all the public are passengers.”

While there is no timetable for restoring a full set of meetings, which would include the suspended review of Camden’s Community Investment Programme, it is understood that the council is looking at the possibility of “hybrid” meetings where some councillors would return to their seat and others would connect from home.

Permission for councils to carry out their businesses remotely is expiring, however, and a renewal has yet to agreed nationally.

Town Hall leader Labour councillor Georgia Gould said: “The government cannot put us in a position where we feel we’d be unnecessarily risking the safety of our staff and residents.”


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