Leading councillor resigns role over “agenda of secrecy”

Coun Tony Williams
Coun Tony Williams
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A leading councillor has resigned from his role on a council management committee amid claims of an “agenda of secrecy.”

Blackpool’s Conservative group leader Coun Tony Williams has stepped down as vice-chairman of Blackpool Council’s Shareholders Panel after saying he has repeatedly been kept in the dark over decisions which he says should have gone before the panel for consideration.

The Shareholders Panel was formed last year to oversee arms-length organisations owned by the council, which include The Sandcastle, Blackpool Transport and Blackpool Coastal Housing.

Coun Williams said he was disappointed that, despite being vice-chairman, he was not being directly informed about changes being made within the organisations.

He said he only heard former managing director of Blackpool Transport Trevor Roberts was leaving the company last month through The Gazette, rather than being informed by a council officer.

Coun Williams said: “I accepted the position of vice- chairman when this panel was formed last year to oversee the arms-length management organisations which are owned by the council.

“It is quite clear that this council is working to a hidden agenda of secrecy and private decisions and they are clearly over-ruling any board decisions or authority within the arms-length companies.

“I therefore have to submit that the Shareholders Panel is nothing more than an orchestrated attempt to try and display some level of democracy in regard to the overseeing of these companies when in fact it is a sham working under a shelter of smoke and mirrors.”

Coun Williams added while he appreciated “that employee matters including appointments and dismissals are dealt with at a company board level”, the Shareholders Panel should be convened in order to discuss some 
decisions that are made.

He said: “I feel I should at least be briefed by a council officer.”

Coun Ivan Taylor, who attends panel meetings in his role as chairman of the Blackpool Transport services board, said issues were discussed openly.

He said: “We talk openly about issues that are of mutual interest to the council and the company. Coun Williams has to make his own judgments, but as far as I am concerned the panel is a good idea and works well.”

Blackpool Council did not wish to comment.