Councillors walk out of meeting over confidential report ‘funded by taxpayers’ money’

By Staff

Opposition councillors walked out of Newham’s full council meeting on Monday (March 18) after their emergency motion calling for the contents of a confidential report to be made public was rejected. Newham Council told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) that the motion sent in by Newham Independents on Friday (March 15) was rejected because the report contained information that was discussed in a private session with the Standards Advisory Committee.

The emergency motion, proposed by Cllr Sophia Naqvi of Plaistow North Ward and Cllr Zuber Gulamussen of Plashet Ward, said there was a ‘significant public interest’ into releasing the report and the context of it. Cllr Naqvi said: “As a council we will never shy away from confronting challenging situations and will always put the needs of our residents before that of any one politician.”

Cllr Naqvi alleges in the motion that a ‘substantial amount’ of taxpayers’ money was spent on the report including an investigation that took over a year to complete. Prior to Monday’s full council, the motion was objected by the council on the grounds that it was ‘improper and out of order’. In response to this, Cllr Naqvi, Cllr Gulamussen and Cllr Mehmood Mirza, who is the leader of Newham Independents, walked out of Monday’s full council.

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Cllr Mirza told the council chamber: “Chair, after receiving an email from the CEO today and looking at the agenda, we have no faith in the governance and impartiality of the leadership of this organisation. Democracy has been denied its rightful place at the heart of us proceeding here tonight… so we have decided to boycott this meeting tonight.”

A Newham Council spokesperson told the LDRS: “In response to an emergency motion submitted on Friday, March 15 by the Independent Group; the chair of council, following advice from the CEO and the monitoring officer, made the decision to reject the motion in its current form.

“This decision stems from the motion containing information regarding matters discussed in a confidential session of the Standards Advisory Committee.” They added: “The Independent Group had an opportunity to amend and re-submit in a form that would have been acceptable but chose not to do so, resulting in the motion being deemed improper and out of order.”

A spokesperson for Newham Independents said: “Our motion which was denied by the Labour chair of council on advice from the CEO was the much-needed first step to address the failings at Newham Council. The people of Newham were denied their right to see their elected politicians debate some of the most pressing issues facing the council today.”

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