Members of the public could have their right to ask questions at council meetings scaled back dramatically.

Money-saving plans drawn up by Barnet Council mean just one question per person could be allowed at meetings where the big decisions are made about how to run the borough.

There are currently no limits to public questions at committee meetings – and the council says dealing with them costs £42,000 per year.

It claims limiting queries to one per person would also allow more people to ask questions.

But one resident who often quizzes the council on its decision-making warned some members of the Conservative administration wanted to avoid scrutiny.

Political blogger John Dix, who blogs as Mr Reasonable, said: “The public asking questions is a good thing. These are really sensible questions about the way the council is run.

“If people can’t ask these questions, you have to ask, what are they trying to hide?”

A council report says there have recently been more than 150 questions submitted to individual committee meetings – all of which require a written response.

The report adds: “The right of residents to raise questions and make comments at committees has become used to a degree which is officer resource intensive and requires limitation to achieve savings.”

But Mr Dix pointed out the fact that the council had recently made several “big, controversial decisions” – including a “chaotic” shake-up of bin collections – meant it was unsurprising that a lot of questions would be asked at meetings.

He also dismissed the potential savings as “peanuts” in the context of the council’s other spending commitments.

Mr Dix said: “I reckon we have saved the council money through the questions we have asked.

“Both Tory and Labour councillors have said, ‘these are useful questions’.

“If questions are not asked at committee meetings, all that is going to happen is they will pop up somewhere else, and councillors will get swamped with emails.”

Several proposals on limiting public questions will be considered at a meeting of the constitution and general purposes committee on Tuesday (June 25).

They range from cutting questions back to one per person to allowing only verbal responses to questions, with written responses provided at the discretion of the committee chairman.

But veteran blogger Mr Dix said even that could be a problem, as written responses to public questions leave an audit trail that can be used to hold the council to account.

The concerns come shortly after Labour councillors raised fears that scrutiny of the council was being restricted.

Labour councillor for East Finchley Cllr Arjun Mittra claimed democracy was being eroded after councillors were stopped from raising ‘members items’ on issues that had already been discussed within the past six months.

And Cllr Kathy Levine, Labour councillor for Brunswick Park, warned scrutiny of outsourcing firm Capita, which runs council services, was being limited because more than 20 committee meetings had been cancelled this year.

A Barnet Council spokesperson said: “A number of recommendations concerning the future format of public questions will be discussed at Tuesday’s Constitution & General Purposes Committee.

“If approved, these recommendations will need to be approved by Full Council at a later date.”

The constitution and general purposes committee will meet at 7pm on Tuesday, June 25 at Hendon Town Hall.