Jan 22 2013

Harrow Conservative Group: Scandal-Hit Labour Secretly Change Rules to Assure Vote Win

harrow_council_logo2Harrow Council’s Labour administration continues to set the benchmark for poor conduct in public office. Already damaged by Cllr. Brian Gate’s accepting of a caution for possession of indecent images of children – and his subsequent resignation – and Cllr. David Gawn’s admission and sentencing for fraud – Labour now plan to bring questionable behaviour into the Council Chamber itself.

On 21st January, the Council is to debate proposals to set up the new localised Council Tax Benefit scheme. Labour previously agreed at a meeting of the Standards Committee in December that those councillors who receive Council Tax Benefit could speak but would not be entitled to vote on the changes. However, Labour organised a last-minute meeting of the Standards Committee on Friday to overturn that decision. This means councillors who receive the benefit will be able to vote on whether they’ll pay any council tax, and could potentially alter the proposals to their advantage. Worse, Labour have also voted to keep secret this list of Members, rejecting a Conservative proposal to make all dispensations granted by the Standards Committee public.

For the Conservative Group, Cllr. Paul Osborn, Vice-Chairman of the Standards Committee – said: “Labour’s conduct is a smorgasbord of desperation; the last gasp meeting, held in secret, in the middle of a blizzard, and called so late only one of the three Independent members of the Committee could attend, that independent member repeatedly cautioned against such a move, saying it would be a “perversion of the system”. In the meeting one of the Labour councillors present voted to overturn a decision they’d agreed with in December – with another Labour member suggested that perhaps her colleagues hadn’t read the papers properly.

The icing on the cake was that one Labour councillor, who in December voted against herself having the vote at Council, said she didn’t agree with her decision and that it should be overturned. I would like to tell you which Labour councillor this was but Labour voted to prevent me from telling the public! It would be funny if it wasn’t quite such a slap in the face to transparency.”

Cllr. Osborn continued: “Maybe Labour are just in turmoil after Cllr. Brian Gate’s resignation as their lead member on the Standards Committee; but even with him quitting the Council in disgrace and Cllr. David Gawn unable to attend the meeting because he’s on a curfew after admitting fraud – they still had the numbers to win the council tax benefit vote without doing this. So their decision is both shady and baffling.”

Cllr. Osborn concluded: “You would think with the whiff of scandal surrounding them at the moment, Labour would be keen to avoid doing anything which appears ethically dodgy, but their behaviour over this shows they apparently have no shame at all.”

Source: Harrow Conservative Group

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