Heated row at first meeting

THE TORIES’ one-seat majority has already flared tempers after a heated row at the first full council meeting since the election.

Labour councillors blasted leader Cllr Chris Corbettt for offering neither the chair nor vice-chair positions of Erewash’s scrutiny committee to a single one of them, despite the borough council now being a two-party chamber.

Cllr Louis Booth pointed out that the majority of voters in Ilkeston returned Labour councillors. He said: “We are not prepared to be nodding dogs at your scrutiny panels when you are just trying to block what the people of Erewash want.”

Every local council has to set up scrutiny committees to act as a check on decisions made by the leading group and are given the power to ‘call in’ decisions the group makes and hold it to account.

The Conservative leading group has decided to combine Erewash’s four scrutiny committees into one this year, saving £14,828 in committee members’ special responsibility allowances and administration costs.

This money is set to provide the free parking at the bottom of Bath Street as revealed on our front page.

At the meeting Thursday, Cllr Corbett’s list of nominees for all of the council’s various committees was approved.

But Labour leader Cllr Howard Griffiths said his party will refuse to take part in scrutiny at all following the decision.

“Scrutiny doesn’t work,” he said. “It’s a waste of time and the controlling group don’t want it to work.”

“I don’t think the nominees to chair and vice-chair give us any confidence whatsoever that scrutiny does anything meaningful at all.”

However Conservative Cllr David Stephenson accused them of ‘political playing’.

“As long as the children on the other side realise it’s playing and only playing,” he added.

After the meeting Cllr Corbett said: “Labour have got ideas and we would like them to contribute them. If they choose not to, that’s a shame, not for us as councillors but for the residents.”

To read a letter from Cllr Stephenson, go to page six.