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Council accused of "gagging" debate over Old Market development
11:30am Friday 5th October 2012 in News
Herefordshire Council bosses have been accused of ‘gagging’ opposition parties by refusing to hold certain debates.
It’s Our County (IOC) says it was told on the morning of last Friday’s full council meeting at Hereford Town Hall that it couldn’t launch a notice of motion relating to the Old Market development off Edgar Street.
Contracts were exchanged on the £90 million deal on the morning of the meeting at which IOC wanted to garner cross-party support in a bid to stop the scheme’s developers approaching existing High Town retailers.
The party also wanted a retail impact study to be carried out to understand the potential impact of the development.
But council chairman Coun Olwyn Barnett declared the motion “out of order” and disqualified it after taking legal advice.
“I accept I should have spoken to the monitoring officer but this notice of motion was seen at the last meeting and nobody said anything,” said IOC leader Coun Mark Hubbard.
“I’m concerned because it was given in two months ago.
“The system seems to be gagging any contentious issues.”
“The only impression you can draw from this action is that in anticipation of the deal scraped together by Stanhope and British Land absolutely no discussion was going to be allowed by the council administration on the damage this deal will have on Hereford city centre,” he said.
“There are serious issues here to do with abuse of process and officers being pressurised to behave in a partisan manner which is against duties as officers of the whole council.
“IOC will be taking this matter up with the Governance department of the council and pursuing the notice of motion at the next meeting.”
Council leader Councillor John Jarvis said British Land had taken a dim view of the motion as it mentioned one of its executives had allegedly leaked information to IOC.
He said the matter had prompted an internal investigation at British Land.