'Self-serving' councillors spend 30 minutes congratulating royal couple at meeting (From Times Series)
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'Self-serving' Barnet councillors spend 30 minutes congratulating William and Kate over birth of Prince George at Hendon Town Hall meeting
Councillors spent half an hour congratulating William and Kate on the birth of the royal baby at a council meeting last night instead of discussing “serious local issues”.
The Conservative administration was criticised for “wasting everyone’s time” by using a thirty- minute debate to decide whether or not to send a letter of congratulations to the royal couple.
Seven business items were proposed for debate by members at Hendon Town Hall, including emergency funds for Barnet and Chase Farm hospitals, train ticket fare increases and a scheme aimed at lowering youth employment.
But with just three allowed to be discussed in full, the ruling Tory group led by Councillor Richard Cornelius used its main business item to note its delight at the birth of Prince George - more than six weeks after the event.
The gushing tributes were followed by an opposition item on parking policy, in which little of note was added, and a non-party political item congratulating the borough’s schools on their exam results.
Labour’s group leader Alison Moore claimed the Conservative administration is “running out of ideas”.
She said: “Less than nine months away from crucial local elections, the administration chose as one of its major policy items something on which we would all of course agree.
“We put down a series of serious items that weren’t debated. It feels like it diminishes the role of full council.
“It was a missed opportunity. I have no problem with congratulating the royal couple but it felt inward and self-serving and that is not the impression we want to be giving the general public.”
Members unanimously agreed to send a letter to Prince William and The Duchess of Cambridge, despite several standing up to voice their bewilderment over the selection of the topic.
Several members of the public gallery left while the item was discussed and some took to Twitter to express their frustration.
Speaking to the Times Series after the meeting, Councillor Cornelius denied his party had wasted an opportunity to discuss more pressing issues.
He said: “I don’t think it was a waste of time. I think it was important constitutionally that we recognised the event. None of the other items were more suitable for discussion.”
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