Hertsmere Borough Council meeting over leader’s expenses ends in shouting match
PUBLISHED: 13:55 05 September 2019 | UPDATED: 14:02 05 September 2019
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A Hertsmere Borough Council meeting about the leader’s expenses ended in a shouting match yesterday.
The extraordinary council meeting - called by the Liberal Democrats and Labour - was aimed at requiring the council to swiftly implement the audit report on expenses submitted by leader Morris Bright and the use of council-owned properties by the Hertsmere Conservatives.
READ MORE: Leaked report on leader's expenses investigated by Hertsmere council
Long-serving Potters Bar Oakmere councillor, Jean Heywood, said politics in Hertsmere had become just as "toxic" as national politics.
"We used to talk and get things done but now its always like this," Cllr Heywood told the WHT after the meeting.
Cllr Bright - who is also county councillor for Potters Bar West and Shenley - kicked things off by saying the meeting was clearly not called to talk about the report.
He said Cllr Jeremy Newmark, leader of the Labour group at HBC, was being far more "insidious" and accused him of telling people that he planned to take down the leader of HBC.
Another Conservative councillor, Paul Morris, whose use of Elstree Film Studios was highlighted by the audit report, mentioned Cllr Newmark's interference in a Labour councillor's marriage - which received boos and shouts of "disgrace" from the Labour members.
READ MORE: Leader of Hertsmere council calls probe into his expenses 'inaccurate'
After the departure of Cllr Morris and Cllr Bright, who could not be present due to their mention in the audit report, Cllr Newmark accused the Conservative mayor Cllr Alan Plancey of deliberately favouring the Conservatives at meetings.
This was then greeted by shouts of interruption from Conservative councillor Linda Silver, who told the Labour leader he could not speak to the mayor like that. Cllr Newmark - who continued to interrupt the meeting with allegations that HBC leaders were trying to prevent democracy - responded with "I can".
Labour Potters Bar Parkfield councillor, Christian Grey, also put forward an amendment to put a time limit on implementing the report, which Conservative councillor Seamus Quilty said could not be done as the council did not know how long it would take.
The motion was voted down by the Conservatives and, due to fiery tempers on both sides of the divide, the WHT was only able to discern the words "disgusting" and "disgraceful" before Cllr Plancey closed the meeting with shouts of "order".
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