Bury St Edmunds: Labour accused of ‘political malarkey’ over school organisation review call-in
08:30 04 March 2014
An opposition group that moved to contest the ongoing School Organisation Review in Bury St Edmunds has been accused of “political malarkey” by a town councillor.
Sandy Martin, who represents Ipswich on Suffolk County Council, was one of five Labour councillors from outside Bury to challenge last week’s cabinet decision to change schools in the town from a three tier to two-tier structure.
Mr Martin denied the move was politically motivated against the Conservative-controlled council, arguing it was Labour’s role to hold Suffolk County Council to account and the make-up of Bury’s county councillors – one Conservative, two independents and one Green – made it difficult for such co-ordinated action to be made locally.
But the Green Party’s Mark Ereira-Guyer said there was “a question of locality” about Labour’s move, especially as the group did not inform Bury councillors before the call-in.
Mr Ereira-Guyer added: “I don’t really understand the reasons for the call-in, apart from the fact they wanted to drag it out.
“Councillors that represent the town didn’t want to call it in, but our opinions weren’t sought by our colleagues. I think they were just making what we call ‘political malarkey’.”
Call-ins of cabinet decisions require support from five councillors if they are to be considered again.
Labour’s successful challenge means the move to two-tier will not be adopted until the council’s scrutiny committee rules on the proposals on Wednesday next week.
Independent councillor David Nettleton said the town’s opposition councillors had worked together in the past, and that different councillors “had their own way of going about it”.
He added: “We do raise these issues if we think that’s the way to do it. We can co-ordinate as well as anybody else when we want to.
“One or two of my colleagues are getting a little bit upset about it, but they are entitled to call things in. It’s entirely up to them.”
Bury’s opposition is also a mixed bag at borough level. Eleven of the town’s 17 St Edmundsbury borough councillors are Conservative, reflecting the Tory’s dominance of the council overall, but the six in opposition are split between three independents, two Labour and one Green.