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Council leader criticised over committee appointments
A ROW broke out between opposition groups on Wyre Forest District Council as committee chairmen were appointed for the year.
The appointments to the various committees were made at the authority's annual meeting on Wednesday last week.
It was new leader, Conservative Marcus Hart's first annual meeting since taking on the role and he was keen to use the word "consensus" when putting forward the proposals - but Labour councillors, who are now the council's main opposition group with nine members, said they were under-represented.
Conservative councillors will lead the appointments and appeals committee, Mr Hart, the audit committee, Tracey Onslow, the licensing and environmental committee, Paul Harrison, and the ethics and standards committee - Douglas Godwin.
Liberal Fran Oborski will be chairman of the planning committee and local plans review panel and Independent Community and Health Concern (ICHC) councillor Liz Davies will head the overview and scrutiny committee.
Labour councillor Chris Nicholls said: "The number show that Labour has got nine councillors - 21.43 per cent of this council - so what do we get offered? Vice-chairman of the scrutiny committee? We are the main opposition party. If this is the leader's idea of consensus, then he does not understand the meaning of the term. This is an affront to local democracy and I think it is absolutely rubbish."
ICHC leader Graham Ballinger, however, said his party was "not even offered that much" when it was the council's second largest group last year. "This yea we will take all the crumbs we are offered," he said. "This year's ICHC has received a better offer than last year when we had two more councillors."
The row was followed by another debate in the chamber over a Labour amendment to split the overview and scrutiny committee and create two committees for council services and corporate services - the plan was rejected by a majority, with Independent councillor Helen Dyke saying the authority "does not have enough resources" for another scrutiny committee.
Mr Hart said: "The electorate of Wyre Forest spoke and we have a very diverse council chamber and political representation this year. It is in my submission we should reflect that throughout the coming year. I hop colleagues will agree consensus is possible."
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