Labour has told the Tory-led Coalition running Durham County Council that it must come clean, consult, and be honest with the taxpayer.
Councillors are furious that major investment decisions are being made behind closed doors without any public scrutiny or consultation.
At yesterday’s Overview and Scrutiny Management Board, a cross party group responsible for scrutinising and commenting on the decisions and work of the cabinet, Board Chairman, LibDem Cllr Craig Martin allowed the Coalition administration to put all details of a report into the future of the DLI Museum into a “Part B” report, that is exempt from general publication.
Labour claims the report, which contains detailed financials for Coalition plans for the DLI Museum, should be debated in a public forum before any major investment decisions are made.
Labour Leader, Cllr Carl Marshall, said:
“The people running Durham County Council either believe they are above scrutiny by taxpayers, or they know what they are doing is wrong. The only reason a discussion like this would be held in private is because this Coalition knows it would not stand up to scrutiny.
“The report contains information about the financial outlay of re-opening the DLI Museum at Aykley Heads, something we know makes no financial sense, but even less at a time when the county finds itself in the grip of a major a cost-of-living crisis. What is going on!?
“This chaotic Coalition must come clean, consult, and be honest with the taxpayer. This is Durham County Council, not some private club where you get to play monopoly with someone else’s money.”
Labour Deputy Leader, Cllr Rob Crute added:
“Even for County Durham’s Tory-led Coalition, this is bad – two scandals for the price of one: potentially wasting a huge amount of public money on an unnecessary and unwanted pet project and making that decision away from public scrutiny. I suppose they’re simply following the lead of their government and discounting the views and wishes of the public to push its own putrid agenda.
“County Durham people must be allowed to have their say on this project, that has the potential to cost millions from Council coffers. And if the Coalition continues to make these decisions behind closed doors, then we will have no other option than to call in the Audit Commission to force them out of the shadows of secluded County Hall meeting rooms and into the public forum of the Council Chamber.”