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HomeMore NewsCouncillors stage walk out after ULEZ debate in Brent

Councillors stage walk out after ULEZ debate in Brent

Conservative councillors staged a walk-out at a recent council meeting and accused the council leadership of ‘stifling and blocking’ debate on the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) expansion. The group felt their motion had been changed to such an extent that it was no longer worth debating.

During the full Brent Council meeting (July 10), the Conservative Group had tabled a debate to discuss the impact the ULEZ expansion would have on drivers in Brent, titled ‘Don’t Punish Brent’s Drivers’.

However, the council’s Labour leadership had amended the motion to such an extent that, rather than debating the potential negatives of ULEZ, it was changed to reflect the positives of the scheme. The topic was amended to ‘Don’t Punish Brent’s Children’.

The leader of the Brent Conservative Group, Cllr Suresh Kansagra, said: “If we go down this route, a time will come when every motion is amended to such an extent that we will not have a debate in this council. I don’t think this is a good precedent that they are setting today.”

The leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Cllr Anton Georgiou, also supported the idea that there had been so many changes to the original motion that it “totally negates” it. He added: “I don’t agree with their motion but I think the precedent that’s set by changing the motion to such an extent could have a negative impact on our group as well.”

A council officer responded that this was considered but concluded that there was “sufficient left within the motion to allow it to not be treated as completely negating the motion”. They said whilst there had been changes “a lot of elements of it are still there”.

They added that the whilst the amendments were deemed “just okay”, they suggested it could be discussed at the constitutional working group to determine where the lines should be drawn.

Conservative councillor, Michael Maurice, told the council that he does “not see the point of debating the amendment”. He called it a “tactic by the Labour group to stifle and block any debate on ULEZ” and asked for the motion to be withdrawn.

The Labour group voted to debate the amended motion, at which point the Conservative group walked out of the chamber in protest. The Conservatives claim they only agreed to return to the chamber when a council officer advised them that the amended motion would no longer be discussed.

Conservative councillor, Sunita Hirani, said: “It is a real shame, that an opportunity to debate democratically an issue of such importance to residents and businesses of Brent, could not be discussed in an open and honest way. this blocking of democratic debate on such a vital issue is unprecedented in Brent council history.”