Councillors in clash over Labour claims

Councillor Ruth Duffy.
Councillor Ruth Duffy.

A senior Fleetwood Labour councillor has accused the Wyre Council administration of a ‘lack of democracy’ over the way it handles a raft of issues.

Coun Ruth Duffy, the leader of Wyre’s Labour opposition group, says several Notices of Motion submitted by Labour have been stopped in their tracks and weren’t debated because the constitution allows Wyre Conservatives to out-vote Labour and reject Notices they don’t like.

Coun Peter Gibson, leader of Wyre Borough Council

Coun Peter Gibson, leader of Wyre Borough Council

The councillor is also unhappy at the way the council’s minutes are being written up, claiming that full details of Labour questions are not being included.

And Coun Duffy says Call-in procedures of portfolio decisions have been changed to make it harder for Labour to challenge council decisions by giving them less time to prepare.

But Coun Peter Gibson, the Conservative leader of Wyre, says the points raised are wide of the mark.

Coun Duffy said: “The latest Notice of Motion was about fracking, an issue which I know many Wyre residents are concerned about, especially after the Poulton tremor a few years ago. Yet we were told this doesn’t affect our area and it wasn’t discussed. It is one thing after another and in my opinion, this whole thing is undemocratic.”

The councillor also criticised new rules which restrict the amount of time allocated to the public to speak at planning hearings to just 12 minutes in total. She says this disadvantages those wishing to challenge unpopular planning applications, such as the plans for flats on the Fleetwood Pier site.

Coun Gibson said: “I am extremely disappointed by the comments of the Leader of the Labour Group, Coun Ruth Duffy, for her attack on Wyre Council and its Officers.

“She clearly wants to make a political point by blaming Wyre Conservatives but, as a long standing member, she should know that Notices of Motion and Questions on Notice are decided as valid or not by Officers not the ruling group.

“If she doesn’t understand that, she shouldn’t be a councillor, let alone the Leader of a group. Her comments are total hypocrisy of the worst kind as Labour at Lancashire County Council have stopped the Conservative leader from speaking at times, so I won’t take lectures on democracy from Coun Duffy.”