Tories angry with plans to change meeting schedule

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A PROPOSAL to introduce a three-day week for the vast majority of council committee meetings in Northumberland has been criticised.

At a meeting of the all-party Constitution Working Group of the county council, it was announced by officers that they had been instructed by the Labour group to see if most of the authority’s formal business could be carried out on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

But the main opposition group, the Conservatives, is not happy with this suggestion. It has accused the administration of ‘arrogance’ in thinking that it would be a positive move.

Labour’s Scott Dickinson, the council’s business chairman, said: “I believe that we can manage most committee meetings in three days and the thinking behind it is that the spare two days would allow council officers to prepare detailed reports.

“Sometimes, they do not have the time to give councillors all the necessary details to enable us to make informed decisions for the good of the county.

“There are a few committees that need to meet on certain days, such as fostering and area committees, which would remain unchanged.”

Conservative group leader Peter Jackson said: “I know from years of experience that it does take a lot of work, five days a week and often more, for councillors to diligently carry out all of the various roles that they have to perform.

“It is arrogant in the extreme for our friends on the Labour benches to imagine they will manage this on a three day programme.”

Moving the Planning and Environment Committee start time from 6pm to 10am was also discussed, but it is unlikely to go through after the working group agreed that it would not be appropriate for various reasons.