Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting WN NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Councillor under fire amid claims he 'let down' rival politicians
A LEADING Worcester councillor has found himself under fierce criticism - amid claims he "failed" and "let down" other politicians.
Worcester's Labour councillors have launched a furious attack over the chairman of a key city watchdog around a dispute over a rearranged meeting.
Councillor Stephen Hodgson, a Conservative with a decade of experience under his belt at the Guildhall, chairs the city's performance, management and budget scrutiny committee.
The committee examines important financial reports on the council, and was due to hold its first session of the new municipal year on Monday, June 16.
It was postponed due to a clash with councillor training sessions, despite the fact the committee was expected to provide feedback on several key reports before the Tory cabinet met 48 hours later on Wednesday, June 18.
That cabinet meeting ended up going ahead without the watchdog looking at the reports first.
The committee finally got together this Wednesday, by which time the Conservative leadership had already met to sign off the various reports.
Labour Councillor Richard Boorn said: "It really is an insult to democracy that we're sat here now.
"There were genuine questions I'd have liked the cabinet to answer, so why was provision not made for this committee to serve its purpose?
"In my mind and I'm sure in the general public's mind this is not a genuine way to have democracy in this city."
Councillor Adrian Gregson, Labour group leader, told Cllr Hodgson he'd "failed" the committee.
"It's your fault we're here tonight, your failure to stick up for this committee has led to this.
"We could easily have swapped this meeting around with the cabinet one to avoid this happening - frankly you've let us down."
Cllr Hodgson said delaying the cabinet meeting would have had a knock-on impact for the city council, and insisted he tried to find a earlier date without any luck.
"Because of the nature of the timetable we inherited from the last administration it was difficult to find a slot," he said.
He said he would "not take lightly" to any councillor training being scheduled on his meeting days again.
Duncan Sharkey, the managing director, said: "Unfortunately when the issue was pointed out it was difficult to move the cabinet meeting as that would have had a knock-on affect for other things too."
He said next time there would be "wider consultation" with councillors.
As your Worcester News revealed last week, the budget from last year left a £367,000 surplus, which was being debated at the meeting.