Proposals that would give the Council Leader and Chairman of the Asset and Enterprise Panel, power to spend up to £10,000,000 of taxpayers' money have been slammed by Brentwood Conservatives.
The plans, which were scheduled to be approved this Wednesday (21st) would have allowed two protagonists of the coalition; Leader Barry Aspinell and Asset Chairman, Russell Quirk the power to spend the money on property within 100 mile radius of Brentwood, without any approval or recourse by council members.
However, thanks to work carried out prior to the meeting by Roger Hirst, Conservative Shadow Lead for Assets, the agenda item was deferred. Roger said, "This whole item beggars belief. Not only were they trying to get round the democratic process, which is frankly, shocking, not to mention hypocritical but once again we are seeing reports and proposals come forward, which are ill thought out and in this case, not even allowed under the Council's constitution. This shouldn't be about egos but about ensuring thorough transparency, openness and doing things properly, especially for such large amounts of taxpayer money."
Conservative Group Lead for Audit and Scrutiny, John Kerslake added, "Once again we are seeing attempts to power grab by key members of Brentwood's coalition, intent on doing what they will, without proper scrutiny. We've had it over William Hunter Way and now we are faced with further efforts to act above their stations and spend huge amounts of taxpayers' money on projects, without a proper approval to do so. It is shocking,"
Following enquiries about the legal legitimacy of the plans, when it had been confirmed that the Leader and Chairman do not have the authority to press ahead with taking such decisions behind closed doors and without the input from a Full Council, the matter was postponed at the final hour.
Roger said," I asked some uncomfortable questions before the meeting and was informed by the Council's lead legal officer that the proposals and reports would have to be substantially redrafted. Miraculously, the Chairman then decided to defer the item. Despite the best efforts of the Leader and Chairman, they cannot do what they are proposing. However, I dread to think what would have happened had they not been exposed."
The Conservatives on Brentwood Council will continue to work hard to expose the coalition's incompetence and to highlight any attempt to operate without clear approval and proper transparency.