Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Minister Asked by MP to Probe Scrapped Meeting

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Minister Asked by MP to Probe Scrapped Meeting

Article excerpt

Byline: Brian Daniel North Northumberland reporter Brian.daniel@ncjmedia.co.uk

ANORTHUMBERLAND MP has asked a Government minister to investigate the legality of a council's decision to cancel a meeting where a protest was planned.

Hexham Conservative Guy Opperman has asked Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis to look into Northumberland County Council's cancellation of the full meeting planned for July 2. e move angered parents who had planned to campaign outside at the meeting over the council's recent decision to bring back transport charges for students in post-16 education.

e Labour-run council, however, has defended the decision, and said a Tory request for an extraordinary meeting in place of the cancelled date will have to be granted.

e authority scrapped the meeting, citing a lack of business, and claiming the move e authority scrapped the meeting, citing a lack of business, and claiming the move would save PS18,000.

Tory opponents accused the administration of seeking to avoid public criticism and tabled a request to have an extraordinary meeting, which eleven councillors signed.

Liberal Democrats have also criticised the move with Berwick parliamentary candidate Julie Porksen vowing to take it up with her party's ministers.

Mr Opperman has now written to Mr Lewis, saying: "I have been truly shocked by the county council's attempts to shut down debate and scrutiny of their actions.

"e amount of important "e amount of important decisions the council is taking of late is huge.

"To suggest there is insucient business to be discussed is at best a headin-the-sand mentality and at worst it is downright undemocratic.

"It can not be right the council's administration can hide away in this manner and I would ask you to investigate the legitimacy of what the Labour administration is trying to do. …

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