The decision to overturn a budget cut after an error with the electronic voting system prompted suggestions that Peterborough City Council had transformed into the Kremlin.
That was the accusation levelled by Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Nick Sandford, who made the suggestion on Twitter after voicing his anger inside the Town Hall last night (Wednesday, March 7).
Cllr Sandford said it was a "farce" that the decision to cut the council’s communications budget by £30,000 had to be rerun due to problems with the electronic voting system, and he was joined by Labour members in his disgruntlement.
First time around, members using the relatively new electronic system had voted 22 votes to 21 in favour of cutting the communications budget, which had been put forward as a proposal by the Labour group. This prompted complaints that not all votes had been registered.
Following a break of five minutes to discuss the issue, the council’s legal officer declared that the vote on the communications budget and another Labour proposal to remove terrorism insurance needed to be rerun as there had been a “system error” with the electronic voting.
Cllr Sandford called the situation a “total farce” and called for an extraordinary meeting of group leaders, which did not take place.
The Paston and Walton member later tweeted: “Mr putin would have been proud had this happened in Russia but I thought we were in U.K. ??”
Labour member for Bretton Cllr Angus Ellis, speaking during the meeting, said: “This is a farce to democracy.”
Labour member for North ward Cllr Nazim Khan said: “If people did not vote then tough. We should move on.”
Labour member for East ward Cllr Matthew Mahabadi added: “Clearly the Tories have lost the vote and they want it reversed.”
In the end, it took approximately 30 minutes for the vote to take place, this time with each councillor being asked to shout out whether they were in favour of the cut or not.
And second time around members voted 29 votes to 21 against the cut.
Earlier in the evening, council leader Cllr John Holdich had defended the authority’s communications budget which he said had been more than halved from £568,000 in 2014/15, when he took over the department.
The vote on saving £39,000 by reducing terrorism insurance for Peterborough was rejected by 29 votes to 15 first time around and by 31 votes to 15 second time around.
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