Town hall clash over budget detail
An ill-tempered town hall meeting saw councillor Alastair Cooper and SIC chief executive Mark Boden lock horns in a row over the council budget.
The spat came at this morning’s policy and resources committee which saw Mr Cooper annoyed to have a list of capital projects put before the chamber for progress to be noted when he felt elected members had never been given a chance to approve the programmes in the first instance.
He did not deny that there had been general discussions about the projects and the budget. But he felt that councillors had never been given the chance to rubber stamp the list of projects when they had planned to in February.
Council officials Robert Sinclair, Jonathan Belford and Mark Boden were quick to contradict Mr Cooper’s assertion.
Mr Sinclair and Mr Belford referenced previous meetings and said they were certain the councillors had resolved to approve the list of projects on capital programmes.
This was not enough to satisfy Mr Cooper, who remained steadfast in his assurance that the programme had not been approved. Mr Boden interjected suggesting that Mr Cooper should put his complaint in writing so that both sides could take legal advice.
Mr Cooper did not agree with this, suggesting instead that he may choose to bring the issue up with “external auditors”.
Following this assertion Mr Boden then lent over to ask SIC executive manager of legal services Jan Riise a question which spurred Mr Cooper to accuse him of being “naughty”.
This was strongly contested by Mr Boden who went on record saying that he was not pleased to face such claims in a public forum.
North Isles councillor Gary Cleaver then chose to wade into the melee by suggesting that, although councillors had approved the budget, they had not had the opportunity to go through a projects list “line by line” in order to determine how the money would be allocated.
Policy and resources chairman Gary Robinson disagreed, saying that he felt the projects had been approved. He then referenced a discussion he had had with Mr Cleaver about funds for the Eric Gray Centre’s replacement as evidence of that.
With the debate going round in circles the committee eventually agreed that the matter should be brought up again at tomorrow’s meeting of the full council.