From South Tyneside Friends of the Earth, and with the kind permission of Dan Alliband of BAN Waste, a report on another council revolt, but this time in Sunderland - and how the opposition left the meeting in disgust at the Labour council's undemocratic ploy to keep the Waste Strategy secret:
"About 30 people were on the public gallery at Sunderland Civic on Wednesday evening of 30th January when the council proposed to eject public and press to allow councillors to look at the ‘Business Case’ for the Joint Waste Management Partnership."
Note - despite several Freedom of Information requests, the Business Case has been withheld from the public.
"Sunderland council's argument was based on the argument that it was in the public’s interest as council tax payers to not disclose budget figures for whatever they were planning, because the private bidders would then know what to bid up to. The independents and conservatives put up a case against this to support ‘freedom of information’ and that it was not in the public’s interest for the discussion to be private. Why should people be denied access to all other information about the plans (e.g. locations and treatments etc).
"There was a vote – and 22 voted against the public being ejected, and 47 voted for, at this point the 22 councillors walked out (the council make up is 57 LAB, 1 LIB, 4 Independents and 13 TORY – so this I think this included all independents & Tories and possibly the Lib, and odd Lab back-bencher!?).
"While the Labour councillors jibed how undemocratic it was that the Tories not wanting to discuss the item while they voted so solidly against Freedom of Information was laughable!
"The mayor adjourned the meeting for 5 minutes while the public were asked to leave, but a handful stayed, including FOE members, and the police were called. The mayor and his labour chums returned to the chamber and declared that the agenda item would have to be deferred to next month.
"The remaining members of the public then left by a side exit to avoid the police who had seemingly arrived at the main reception!"
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