17 October 2020
“Breakdown in trust” – Labour Councillors criticised over unwillingness to admit mistakes
Norwich City Council’s ruling Labour group risk sweeping problems of mistrust and inefficiency under the carpet, opposition councillors have warned after heated exchanges in the council yesterday.
The comments were made after a scrutiny committee meeting on Thursday 15th October (1) which discussed the council's response to enhancing community development following Covid-19.
During the course of the two and a quarter hour meeting, Green Party councillors suggested that the council could use mediation services to help engage community groups in cases where there had been a “breakdown in trust”. Labour councillors, however, refused to acknowledge that any such breakdowns in trust between the council and residents had occurred or would occur. Labour councillors chose to scrap that recommendation along with other recommendations on how to improve communication between residents and the council.
Councillor Jamie Osborn, a Green Party member of the scrutiny committee said:
“No one likes to talk about mistakes, but when you are running a local council you have to be prepared to acknowledge that things may sometimes go wrong, for example when people report antisocial behaviour and never see any action. It seems the Labour councillors have not learnt that skill and are unwilling to undergo scrutiny in case anything that is said makes them look bad.
“In the end, we all want the council to be efficient and well-prepared to meet the expectations of people in Norwich, but we have to be realistic about the times when that is not happening."
A further slip in the council’s democratic processes occurred at a meeting of the city council's cabinet on Wednesday 14th October (2). Labour Cabinet members agreed to exempt a £1.5m decision on leasing vehicles from further scrutiny.
Councillor James Wright, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group and Chair of the Scrutiny committee, said:
"Scrutiny exists for a purpose in the council: it is vital to check over decisions and ensure that taxpayers’ money is being spent efficiently and effectively. It sets a worrying trend when the ruling Labour group starts to decide it doesn’t need its decisions to be checked.”
Further information from:
Councillor Jamie Osborn firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor James Wright email@example.com