Labour party leader quits committee

RELATIONS between the two main parties on Waveney District Council have hit an all-time low with the resignation of Labour party leader David Jermy from the north Suffolk council's Executive committee.

RELATIONS between the two main parties on Waveney District Council have hit an all-time low with the resignation of Labour party leader David Jermy from the north Suffolk council's Executive committee.

Mr Jermy resigned his seat on the Executive accusing the ruling Conservative group of treating the electorate and businesses of Waveney with "arrogance and pomposity".

His claims have been dismissed by senior Tory councillors who said Mr Jermy's resignation was the latest example of his party refusing to co-operate after losing their majority at last year's local election.

During recent meeting of the Executive a confidential item on the future of the East Port project in Great Yarmouth was being discussed.

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Mr Jermy asked why the Executive was being asked to make a decision on such an important issue when the Tory administration were aware that the Government had rejected proposals prepared for the East of England Development Agency.

Transport minister David Jamison rejected the report on the grounds that the sections relating to the impact the outer harbour at Great Yarmouth would have on the port of Lowestoft and asked Amion, the EEDA consultants, to re-examine that part of their report.

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Speaking after the Executive meeting Mr Jermy said: "As the Tory administration had decided to make this a confidential item which meant the public gallery and journalists were asked to leave, I am not permitted to go into any details of the very passionate debate which took place.

"However, after taking advice I can say that I, and to the best of my knowledge, no other councillors have ever seen the Amion report, even in its incomplete state, but we were being expected t make a decision on its contents on what is one of the most important issues facing Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft this decade and possibly this century."

Mr Jermy called on the Executive to defer any decision until councillors were given the completed report and that the final decision should be made by the full council and not just the nine members of the Executive.

"At the moment I am neither for nor against the East Port project because I do not have access to all the information with which to make a proper and considered judgement.

"I strongly believe that this Tory administration is once again forcing through very important decisions with an arrogance and pomposity that has to be observed to be believed," he said.

Mr Jermy said he resigned his place on the Executive because he could no longer be associated with decisions being made in an "undemocratic way" based on flawed and incomplete information.

"This is not what I was elected to do.

"This item has now been called in by the Scrutiny Panel to investigate why the Executive made an apparently unsafe decision due to the lack of information available to members and why the full council was denied the opportunity to make the final decision," he said.

Senior Conservative councillor and Executive member Stephen Chilvers said the matter had to be debated in the confidential part of the meeting because it involved various contracts.

"Waveney was only being asked to approve the proposals in principle and no detailed commitment was given.

"Mr Jermy is well aware of this and his resignation is just the latest move in the Labour party's withdrawal from the working of the council since they lost control in the local elections last year," he said.

Mr Chilvers said Labour party members were given the chance of "shadowing" Tory portfolio leaders but had not taken up the opportunity given to them. Labour councillors also refused to take part in pre-budget meetings before this year's council tax figures were agreed.

"It is very sad and Labour members are letting down the electorate that voted for them.

"It is the Liberal Democrat and Independent councillors who make up the opposition at these meetings," said Mr Chilvers.

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