Our Group Leader on Sutton Council, Cllr Tom Drummond, recently wrote an Open Letter to the Chief Executive of Sutton Council Helen Bailey raising serious concerns over the conduct of Liberal Democrat Councillors.
Read the full letter below:
I'd like to thank you once again for attending the Conservative group meeting where we discussed a range of topics. As I think was more than evident, we are a passionate group who only want what is best for this borough. In our last meeting we talked at length about Council employees (Officers) being put in situations where they are used as "human shields" by the Liberal Democrat administration. To reiterate we think this is wrong, politicians should be accountable for their decisions and not hide behind your staff.
Just before the last Full Council the Lead member for E&ST Committee, Cllr Abellan, took it upon himself to tweet a policy regarding ANPR cameras. We have also seen recent Liberal Democrat literature containing information about as yet unpublished proposed LTN's. This could be considered political posturing, however Cllr Abellan chose to announce the policy in Full Council at which point it became official Council business.
We now find ourselves in a position where policies are being announced before the papers for a committee have even been finalised. I believe this goes against every informal convention of this Council. Clearly this puts your staff in the unenviable position of being asked questions on a policy which is yet to be considered by elected members. Sadly, this abuse of a privileged position puts into question whether the current way we conduct business in Sutton is fit for purpose. We seem to have developed an opaque decision making process which only benefits the Liberal Democrat administration. When a policy proves favourable they take ownership and when a policy is less popular they hide behind Council staff or the committee structure this Council purports to operate under.
I appreciate you are not able to control what Councillors decide to put in the public domain, and the argument that Cllr Abellan took a political gamble by deciding to tweet these policies is a legitimate point of view. However, it should be noted that this abuse of his position suppresses our ability to carry out the constitutional function of scrutinising council policies as the official opposition group. This instance is not the first time that Councillors from the Liberal Democrats have taken this liberty as we have communicated to you before.
I believe it is hugely regrettable that a Councillor manufactured a situation where officers are being asked questions on yet undecided policies before official papers are even published. I also recognise this puts you in a difficult position as you have a duty of care for the wellbeing of all Council employees and this type of situation could have a detrimental impact on the metal health of staff by adding to their stress levels and workloads.
We want to publicly put on record that it is grossly unfair your staff are put in an invidious position and this abuse of a lead members privilege is an affront to the democratic decision making process of Sutton.
Cllr Tom Drummond
Conservative Group Leader
Councillor for Worcester Park