Reading Liberal Democrats have reacted furiously at the decision by the Labour Council to use emergency powers to limit scrutiny from opposition parties. As of yesterday a reduced Policy Committee consisting of the Labour Leader, his Deputy and the Leader of the main Conservative opposition party, is taking all the key council decisions after all other council and committee meetings were suspended.
Lib Dem leader Cllr Ricky Duveen criticised the move to silence democratic opposition, saying the council had taken this action precipitously without waiting for government legislation to enable councils to use modern video conferencing technology to hold meetings, something that is expected very soon as councils up and down the land look for alternatives to holding meetings in Civic Offices.
The Labour Party were too ready to dismiss input and scrutiny from the key opposition parties, the Lib Dems and the Greens, who have provided most of the opposition to the Labour council over the last few years.
‘There was no need to act so quickly to curtail local democracy’ said Cllr Duveen. ‘I gather some councils are already using video-conferencing to hold meetings and I don’t see why Reading could not use the technology before curtailing our democracy.’