An important scrutiny meeting on health issues at Peterborough City Council had to be cancelled as not enough councillors attended the meeting.
The meeting at the town hall on Tuesday night was intended to scrutinise the performances of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group and the council’s adult social care department.
Council leader Councillor Marco Cereste was set to deliver a report at the meeting.
The only councillors who attended were Cllr Brian Rush and Cllr Keith Sharp. Cllr Sharp said: “Both Cllr Rush and myself were embarrassed because we had senior members of the health services and adult social care team present.”
Cllrs June Stokes, Sue Allen, Richard Ferris, Nabil Shabbir and Asif Shaheed were had all been expected to attend the meeting.
Labour Cllr Shabbir said a family emergency just before the meeting meant he had had to leave the city.
I’ve been a councillor for over 60 years and I’ve never known a meeting cancelled because there were not enough councillors. It’s a sad state of affairs.Councillor Charles Swift
Everyone else had sent in an apology of absence.
Councillors who cannot make a meeting often arrange for another member of their own party to fill in for them.
Liberal Democrat Cllr Shaheed said: “I gave my apologies and unfortunately none of my group members were available to act as subs. Being a small group they each had committments elsewhere.”
Conservative Cllr Allen said: “Unfortunately I had to give apologies on the day as my aunt who is in her 80s was taken ill and I stayed with her. I did telephone in the morning in the hope that a substitute could be found in time.”
Conservative Cllr Stokes, who said she had never missed a meeting before, was in New York and had asked a week earlier for a sub to take her place.
However, according to Conservative Cllr Nigel North, the sub, who he would not name, was detained for unexpected and unavoidable reasons and could not contact him.
Cllr North added: “It is a perfect storm of coincidences which never happens.”
Labour Cllr Ferris said he sent in an apology due to a work absence and is often a sub in other meetings.
He added: “Nobody was available from my group to sub. I do not think this indicates people are not interested. Scrutiny is generally well attended.”
Cllr Charles Swift said: “I’ve been a councillor for over 60 years and I’ve never known a meeting cancelled because there were not enough councillors. It’s a sad state of affairs.
“What an appalling embarrassment for the city to cancel an important meeting. It’s unforgivable.”
Kim Sawyer, director of governance at the council, said the meeting would be re-arranged. She added: “Illness and unforeseen personal circumstances meant some councillors could not attend and substitutes were not available on short notice.”