It seems that Labour’s bully boy tactics have come to the fore once again in RCT. Not content with holding 60 out of 75 seats on the Council they appear to want to quash any attempts by others to hold them to account.
Following the May 3rd election talks were held between Mike Powell, Welsh Liberal Democrat Councillor for Trallwn, the sole Conservative Councillor, and the newly elected Independent Councillors regarding forming a group.
An agreement was reached with Cllr James, Conservative, and two of the Independent Councillors to do just that. The group, to be called the Democratic Alliance Group, would have been a loose alliance formed merely to enable members to take advantage of the scrutiny system. There would have been no obligation for them to vote in the same way, and no party political influence brought to bear on Independent members.
Unless a Councillor is a member of a group then he / she gets no seats on any of the scrutiny committees which are supposed to hold the administration to account and give at least some outward semblance of democracy.
It seems that the Labour group want to stamp out even this low level of opposition. Word was allegedly spread by the Labour councillor for Ferndale that the Independent member also representing this ward was in effect selling out to the electorate by joining forces with the Welsh Liberal Democrats and the Tories.
Being new to the political hot bed that is RCT and the dirty tricks of the Labour party, the Councillor reacted in just the way Labour wanted him to, and pulled out of the group.
This now means that he will be operating completely on his own in the Chamber and elsewhere, with no experienced Councillors to look to for advice. He will not be able to sit on any of the scrutiny committees. He is isolated.
Strangely enough the Labour party did not concern themselves with the Independence of mind of Independent members prior to this. They had no concerns about it when they appointed Roger Turner Chair of the Overview & Scrutiny committee, even though he was a member of a group. Of course Mr Turner later joined the Labour party having been rewarded sufficiently by them with his special responsibility allowance for several years. He was allowed to hold on to that extra payment when the ruling group decided they no longer needed anyone independent to Chair it.
Democracy – it is a word the Labour party need to familiarize themselves with.