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Cumbrian councillors kicked out of debate about new county HQ

A political row has erupted after county councillors were excluded from a meeting discussing their new headquarters.

James Airey photo
James Airey

Members of Cumbria County Council’s cabinet were due to discuss a proposed new headquarters in the heart of Carlisle, when members of the opposition, who had hoped to hear the debate, were asked to leave.

Under current rules, the second part of council meetings are reserved for matters of a confidential or financially sensitive nature and members of the press and public are usually excluded.

Councillor James Airey, the leader of the opposition, was shocked when councillors themselves were ejected ahead of the discussion on the proposed new headquarters in Botchergate.

Speaking outside the closed meeting he said: “To exclude democratically elected members from a meeting of cabinet is disgraceful; in all my time as a councillor I have never known this to happen.

“It is quite clear that following the local elections we have moved into a new era of secrecy and mistrust.”

Mr Airey continued: “Just what has [council leader] Stewart Young got to hide? Have the costs for his new ivory tower on Botchergate spiralled beyond the huge £10m already proposed? Or is something more sinister going on?

“I can assure the people of Cumbria that members of the opposition will continue to ask the questions that need to be asked.”

He promised to raise the matter at the next full council meeting, where he says he “will expect an assurance that this exclusion will not occur again”.

Mr Young denied there was anything sinister going on, and insisted it was normal practice for councillors to be asked to leave during the second part of the cabinet meeting.

He said: “In the same way as the press and public are excluded. Eddie Martin, the former leader, took a much more relaxed attitude – he let anybody stay. It is at the chairman’s discretion.

“It was the first meeting where it was an issue where there were some people there. We have reverted to normal practice.”

He said that the information was of a financially and commercially sensitive nature and people would be informed about the Botchergate development in due course.

Have your say

It looks like the selfish bullying has started already. It is quite scary to discover how we will be treated. Democracy is a thing of the past and our voices will be unheard. Welcome to Dystopia, get out of the area while you have the chance.

Posted by Worrying Times Ahead on 24 July 2013 at 22:01

In reply to Common Sense,where in the report does it mention all ccc moving to one building,it also does not mention new build but the sum of £10m would lead to thinking Mr common Sense before you get your knickers in a twist allow others there opinion...

Posted by spiritchief on 24 July 2013 at 14:01

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