Conservative controlled Wiltshire Council meeting cancelled due to ‘insufficient business’

“I’m surprised at a time when Wiltshire residents are facing a crippling cost of living crisis, a climate emergency and strike action that, apparently, there isn’t anything worth discussing at a council meeting.” (Leader of Lib Dem group, Cllr Ian Thorn) 

They are running out of ideas – Owl

Benjamin Paessler www.salisburyjournal.co.uk 

WILTSHIRE Council will no longer meet next month due to “insufficient business”. 

The council had been due to have its next full meeting in Trowbridge on July 19. 

The decision was taken before the deadline for submitting motions and questions.

The leader of the council’s Liberal Democrat group, cllr Ian Thorn, said he is “flabbergasted” that the administration “seems to have nothing to discuss”. 

Cllr Thorn added: “I’m surprised at a time when Wiltshire residents are facing a crippling cost of living crisis, a climate emergency and strike action that, apparently, there isn’t anything worth discussing at a council meeting.

“Either there is no programme or activity to share with members at a council meeting or decisions are being taken elsewhere. Coupled with the sparse agenda in May, at least one cancelled meeting of cabinet and members being denied the opportunity to ask verbal questions at cabinet it all adds up to a pretty sorry state.”

The Lib Dems were planning motions on the cost of living crisis, disinvestment in companies that avoid paying tax and possibly something on pesticides.

In an email seen by the Journal’s sister paper the Gazette and Herald, Lib Dems cllr, Ruth Hopkinson, said she was “somewhat appalled” by the decision. 

Cllr Hopkinson, writing to the chairman of the council Stuart Wheeler, said: “I have no wish to sit through tedious meetings for no good reason, but there is a matter of principle at stake here.

“That principle is that all Councillors are elected to oversee the work of the Council & represent our residents. This decision reduces our ability to do that.”

The council’s leader, Richard Clewer, responded saying there were only two items that full council needed to make a decision over – a governance report around parish boundaries that will not come into effect until 2025 and “a very minor change around the constitution which can be covered in October”.

He said: “On that basis I don’t personally see that it is sensible to ask 98 members to (mostly) drive to county hall for a meeting that is not making any decisions that are urgent. 

“Instead I think it makes sense to save the travel and carbon emissions not to mention officer time.”

On the matter of motions more broadly, Cllr Clewer said: “I find that many of the motions that are brought to full council are based on national templates and call on Wiltshire to urge central government to take action. 

“They are politically motivated and of no benefit to Wiltshire Council or its residents.  There have been a few exceptions to that and those motions have been discussed in advance, worked on to make sure they are implementable and been put through on a cross party basis. 

“No one has raised any such motions with me over the last few weeks. I would also note that no motions were brought to the last full council.” 

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