Saturday, 28 February 2009

Council's budget controversy

Cardiff County Council’s controversial budget meeting ended dramatically on Thursday night after the leader walked out moments after the opposition party accused the majority group of Nazi-style tactics.

Cardiff County Council Leader Rodney Berman left the chamber in protest and Labour leader Ralph Cook was asked to leave after his accusations. Upset his group had not outlined their opposition to the 4.3 per cent council tax rise, he said: "This is the kind of thing that happened in Nazi Germany, the majority party is using the system to stifle debate."

Tempers flared after the budget was voted on just 35 minutes into the 138 minutes allocated for the debate. Members of Labour and the Independents had passed up the opportunity to voice their opposition before the debate was opened to the floor.

The budget was then passed with 41 votes in favour, 31 against and one abstention.

Speaking during a 15-minute recess, Cllrs Cowan and Robson branded the events “disgraceful”.
Cllr Robson said: “We are thinking about what future action we can take. We are all very disheartened by this and intend to contact the standard and ethics committee.”

Cllr Cowan added: “This is very disappointing and has not happened in my nine years on this council. We knew we were not going to win but we just wanted our say. This is completely undemocratic.”

It was when the meeting reconvened Ralph Cook was challenged over remarks he was overheard saying in the break. He repeated his allegation and was asked by Cllr Howells to leave the chamber.

As he left he said: "There is no need to tell me, I was going anyway."

Rachel Quigley is a print journalist based in South-east Wales.

She attended Thursday's council meeting on behalf of Politics Cymru.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this.

Could Rachel supply a bit more information... namely who are Cllrs Cowan and Robson - Labour?
why did Labour pass up on the chance to speak - and then complain at not being able to speak?
Were the 2 cllrs speaking to the press or public or other cllrs?
Who is Cllr Howells?

Anonymous said...

Rodney Berman's great grandparents were Jews who escaped persecution by the "Black Hundreds". Those who have seen Fiddler on the Roof" you would probably understand his sensitivity on the matter. Labour Party are such a bunch of hypocrites even their former (and real) leader was nicknamed "Napoleon"! I am sure that the Cardiff Labtory party would rather see Cardiff fail!

Anonymous said...

Jane Cowan is an independent in Rhiwbina (and is Adrian Robson's wife). You could watch the proceedings on the council's web site.

And judge for yourself.

Politics Cymru said...

More from Rachel:

I apologise for the lack of info, but it seems some of my lengthy and detailed account of the council proceedings got relegated to the cutting room floor.

Cllr Jane Cowan and Adrian Robson are both Independents. Cllr Howells is Lib Dems.

Labour and the Independents didn't pass up the the chance to speak but instead resreved the right to speak until later in the proceedings (thinking there would be a later). However because they did not put their names up on the electronic board (which is what you must do if you want to speak), Cllr Howells got in first and put the motion in to go for vote.

Which was within the rule book but was thought to have been slightly underhand by the other cllrs as he knew the other members wanted to speak later.

Speaking to some of the cllrs the day after, there were mixed views about why they resereved the right to speak. Some (not naming names) say they believe the cllrs involved wanted to hear what everyone else had to say before rubbishing their claims, so they could get their damning word in at the end. Others say that certain cllrs always try to get in the last word at council meetings.

Some of the cllrs who passed up the chance simply said they wanted to hear what some of the other parties had to say before putting their views across.

Cllrs Cowan and Robson were speaking to the press (i.e. me) at the break.

Sorry for any confusion and hope this answers your questions.