Anger over borough's 'pointless meeting'

IT took just 29 minutes and cost taxpayers the best part of �400 - that was the price of democracy in Ipswich for what has been described a "pointless meeting".

IT took just 29 minutes and cost taxpayers the best part of �400 - that was the price of democracy in Ipswich for what has been described a “pointless meeting.”

The opposition on the council today launched a stinging attack on the current administration after the borough's monthly meeting went ahead even though there was only one item on the agenda.

Just one question was lodged at the meeting, held in Suffolk county council's meeting room at Endeavour House - Labour leader David Ellesmere asked how much convening the borough council had cost.

He was told by council leader Liz Harsant the cost amounted to �369.76 with most going to room hire and for refreshments.

The meeting would have been even shorter if the Labour Party hadn't attempted to have Mr Ellesmere elected to the executive.

It led to the council adjourning for the leadership of the ruling Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition to discuss the matter before reconvening to defeat the motion.

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The only item on the agenda was to consider nominations and changes of councillors to serve on the executive, committees, panels, working groups and outside bodies.

The meeting made two changes to the executive - Paul West, who is now in charge of the county council's bid to become Britain's greenest county, was replaced as transport portfolio holder by Tania d'Hondt.

And Stephen Wells, sacked by Mrs Harsant this week from the housing services portfolio for publicly calling for a referendum on the controversial northern fringe development proposals without consulting her first, was replaced by Richard Pope.

Mr Ellesmere said the transport portfolio could have been changed at the borough's June meeting, while the “chaos in the ruling group” over the northern fringe which led to Mr Wells being removed meant cash had been wasted “on a pointless meeting because Tory councillors are fighting like rats in a sack”.

However, Mrs Harsant said: “Originally, we were going to discuss the local development framework for the borough, but that is now being considered at the September meeting.

“It's ridiculous to suggest that I knew Mr West would be given a county portfolio - that matter arose after our June meeting and he cannot hold executive posts on two councils.”

The last time a full meeting of the borough council was cancelled for lack of business was November last year.

Should the meeting have been postponed? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

Joan Gillman, of Green Lane, Stonham, said:

“I think they should've cancelled the meeting and saved taxpayers the money.

“I'm not angry about it - I suppose you get used to money being wasted like this. At least it isn't as bad as the expenses!”

Edward Askett-Smith, of The Street, Occold, said:

“What a waste of time and money.

“That could be 20 weeks worth of food for a uni student.”

Carl Moffat, of Spring Road, Ipswich, said:

“I think it's pretty bad for them to sit around and have coffee for �400 of our money.

“We never know where our money goes. The taxes come out and that's all we really know.”

Ant Watt, of St Nicholas Street, Ipswich, said:

“As a businessman who pays a lot of money each month in rates I find it appalling but, sadly, unsurprising.

“This waste of hard-earned taxpayers' money goes on everywhere.”

Kimberley Haddock, of St Matthews Street, Ipswich said:

“It sounds ridiculous. If there is no reason for the meeting and nothing to discuss then it's pointless.

“There should only be meetings if they have something constructive to discuss, as they could do something really useful with the money.”

Jonathan Edwards, of Fox Lea, Kesgrave, said:

“I'm not really too bothered.

“All professions have expenses that get abused, but when MPs or councillors do it, people kick up a fuss.

“In this time of economic struggle everyone wants a scapegoat and local MPs are bearing the brunt.”