Blackpool Council’s leader has rejected claims a change to the way councillors can be questioned resembles a move in keeping with one of the world’s most secretive states.
In a full council meeting which lasted little more than half an hour tonight, Coun Simon Blackburn dismissed an email which likened the ruling Labour group’s new question and answer format to a “North Korean presidential system.”
On Wednesday The Gazette reported Coun Blackburn, deputy leader Coun Gillian Campbell and cabinet secretary Coun Graham Cain would report and take questions on behalf of key portfolio holders at full council meetings.
It is understood the changes were brought in by the Labour group to save time in the meetings as the three top positions were ultimately responsible for the departments and any questions could be delegated to the individual portfolio holders if necessary.
But Coun Tony Williams, leader of the opposition Conservative group, said the change was not democratic – adding portfolio holders could not be held to account under limited question time.
He added: “Before we came here I received an email from a resident. They said the new format resembled a North Korean presidential system.
“If we held a meeting which went half the night then so be it. Everyone involved should accept responsibility.”
But Coun Blackburn dismissed the comments, adding he could not understand the confusion about the new question format which had been agreed at July’s full council meeting.
“I am disappointed that is the best the other party can do,” he said.
“One imaginary email about North Korea does not a political agenda make.
“I have re-read the item passed at the last full council. I can’t understand what the problem is.
“If the opposition ask meaningful questions to myself or Coun Campell or Coun Cain and we can’t answer we refer the question to the relevant member.
“I do not understand what has happened between now and the last meeting.
“I can only think it was a stormy meeting with the Conservative group which has changed things.”
For decades North Korea has been one of the world’s most secretive societies.
It is one of the few countries still under nominally communist rule and is known for a rigid state-controlled system.