Guildhall squabbling 'bad for Hull's image', says Tory leader
A SENIOR COUNCILLOR has warned that any more bust-ups at the Guildhall could damage the city's image.
Last week's full council meeting ended abruptly when opposition Liberal Democrats walked out in protest at the voting tactics of the ruling Labour group.
Labour used its majority to shorten debates on a proposed switch fortnightly bin collections and the co-ordination of roadworks in the city.
Labour used the same ploy to defer a Lib Dem motion seeking to censure transport portfolio holder Martin Mancey over his handling of the road works issue.
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During angry exchanges, councillors from both parties shouted across the council chamber at each other with some Lib Dems accusing Labour of "bully boy" tactics.
Caught in the crossfire was Conservative group leader Councillor John Fareham, who twice voted against Labour's move to close down the debates.
An ex-Lord Mayor, he said some of the behaviour at last week's meeting had been the worst he had witnessed in his 27 years as a councillor.
"At a time when companies like Siemens are looking to invest in Hull, I am fairly certain they are also looking for maturity and stability from the local council.
"However, if they had been watching what was going on last week I am not sure they would have been very impressed at all.
"Labour need to be careful where they are going with this because it does send out the wrong messages to potential investors."
Cllr Fareham said he believed the Labour group needed to "man up" and face criticism from opposition councillors at full council meetings.
"My genuine view is that, as opposition councillors, we get one day every month where we get to set the agenda and that is on the day of the full council.
"Everyone knows Labour has got the majority to win every vote but for one day the opposition can challenge them and put forward their alternative views on how the city should be run. That's called democracy.
"Labour should man up and take it and should not be trying to stifle debate in this fashion.
"I am all for healthy debate, but on this occasion there was no need for certain people to be yelling and shouting abuse.
"They are not the actions of a mature group of people."
He said the tables had been completely turned since the days when the Tories were last briefly in power in Hull in the late 1960s.
"In those days, Labour in opposition would deliberately stretch every full council meeting out until two in the morning.
"It was their right to do it and we had to sit there and take it.
"They were also quite happy to make meetings last all day when Carl Minns was in charge. Now it appears they have changed their minds."
Labour's group secretary Tom McVie said the closure votes were necessary because the issues had already been discussed in-depth during scrutiny meetings.