Opposition politicians from across the board have jumped on the county council’s Labour administration over its decision to cancel a meeting.
The full meeting of the county council planned for Wednesday, July 2, has been called off, apparently due to a lack of business.
But parents fighting to reverse the controversial decision to stop free transport for post-16 students believe that the Labour councillors are ‘running scared’ of the group, which was planning to air its views and protest at the meeting at County Hall.
Coun John Woodman, who represents Seahouses, where several of the main protesters come from, said: “The council is just starting on significant cuts in running costs. The administration should want support and ideas from all councillors rather than closing down debate.
“We need a compromise – perhaps a lower charge with proper monitoring. We don’t need a cancelled meeting and a refusal to engage.”
Conservative parliamentary candidate for Berwick, Anne-Marie Trevelyan and current MP, Lib Dem Sir Alan Beith, were also critical. “The idea that there is insufficient business for the council to be getting on with is laughable,” said Mrs Trevelyan.
Sir Alan said: “Labour councillors are constantly blaming the Government when they have to make difficult decisions and now it seems they are not prepared to meet and make any decisions at all.”
A Labour group spokesman claimed that cancelling the meeting will save the taxpayer £18,000 and said: “There were no motions nor questions submitted by opposition parties and the decision to end free post-16 transport had already been taken, effective from May 31.”
He added: “Residents will rightly raise questions over the differing motives of Northumberland’s Conservatives who have kept mum over coalition cuts to their communities and now seek to portray ‘faux’ outrage to a decision they would have made if they formed an administration last year. It’s hypocritical.”