The leader of the council has criticised a Labour councillor for misrepresenting a planned amendment to the constitution.

The leader of Barnet Borough Council Councillor Richard Cornelius has accused Labour's deputy group leader Councillor Barry Rawlings of misinterpreting a proposed amendment to the council’s constitution that would prevent members of the public asking questions at certain overview and scrutiny committee meetings.

The amendment would mean members of the public would be unable to ask questions on call-ins, where councillors can be asked to reconsider decisions that committee members think might go against budget or policy frameworks, or pre-decision scrutiny, where proposals from councillors are inspected.

Cllr Rawlings criticised the amendment, which will be voted on at a meeting tomorrow, as “wrong-headed,” arguing that since Barnet Council was in the middle of a judicial review about its inadequate consultation process into the One Barnet privatisation programme, he found it "staggering" it would want to further restrict the rights of the public to hold the council to account.

Cllr Cornelius said: “I am very disappointed indeed to see Cllr Rawlings so blatantly trying to play party politics with recommendations which have arisen through a cross-party working group, membership of which included his Labour Group Leader Cllr Alison Moore no less.

"It seems extraordinary that Cllr Moore has been quoted in opposition to a proposal that she has helped bring before the committee. Perhaps the Labour group became confused when she was away.”

He added that members of the public would still be able to ask questions in many situations at Overview and Scrutiny meetings, and at members of the public would still have the opportunity to comment at most meetings.

He said: “The change is merely about ending a situation whereby scrutiny committee chairmen are being asked questions they are not in a position to answer. Questions will now be better directed to those responsible for the particular policies and decisions under scrutiny.

“Public speaking rights will be preserved at committee meetings.”