Ipswich Borough Council has been attacked over a “wall of secrecy” surrounding plans to make £3.5m “savings” in the council’s housing services.
Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors took an “in principle” decision to go ahead with the massive savings programme at a behind-closed-doors meeting on Tuesday 7th October. A similar commitment was also made to pay consultants a substantial fee to deliver this programme. Before any discussion took place, councillors voted to ban members of the press and public from the meeting.
The Executive has even refused to release the report detailing what the cuts it plans to make to other councillors. Only those Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors who are on the Executive were allowed to see the report under conditions of strict security. In a bizarre twist it has also emerged that the leader of the Liberal Democrats was not even allowed to see the report.
The only Labour councillor who has since been allowed to see the report, Leader David Ellesmere, been gagged from speaking about the savings programme and threatened with disciplinary action if he discloses the report’s contents.
At a meeting on Wednesday the council even tried to remove members of the press and public from the room while a question was asked about this obsessive secrecy! The council only backed down after protests from Labour councillors.
Labour Leader, David Ellesmere, said:
“I’ve been told I am not allowed to say how the savings are going to be made, which consultants are going to be taken on, nor how much they are going to be paid. This is not the way decisions should be made. Council tenants will be extremely anxious about what these plans mean. If the Tories and Liberals don’t have anything to hide, why all the secrecy?”