Opposition calls for greater transparency from Harborough council's new coalition

Harborough District CouncilHarborough District Council
Harborough District Council
But the council leader says his group have made their plans clear to the public

The opposition leader on Harborough District Council has called for greater transparency from the ruling council coalition.

Councillor John Bateman, leader of the Harborough Conservatives, has criticised the council leaders for not releasing the full Labour, Green and Lib Dem coalition agreement in public.

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The Tory group lost a hold of the council in the May local elections and were replaced by a coalition made up of the Labour Party, the Greens and Liberal Democrats. Councillor Phil Knowles took the reigns as council leader, having formerly served as the Lib Dem opposition leader.

Criticism is now being launched at the new three-party leadership group after more than a month in office, with the Tory group calling on the them to “be more transparent.” Cllr Bateman also called on the leaders to inform people of their future plans.

He said: “Councillors, council staff, and residents are all in the dark about what the ruling coalition’s plans are. Apart from some vague comments about customer service desks and leisure, none of us are clear what they want to do.

“To add to this, they still haven’t published their coalition agreement. Residents in the Harborough district deserve to know what was agreed in private, behind closed doors. Are there any trade-offs, and how will they work together to deliver local services?

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“They need to be transparent and open, rather than being secretive. This document should be in the public domain.”

But the council leader has hit back and said the comments won’t distract them “from doing the job at hand”. Cllr Knowles added: “We have signed and ensured we have signed all the necessary agreements, we have made it very public to the people of Harborough that we have a strong coalition agreement.

“We have made it very prominent to the people of Harborough that we are working collaboratively to deliver for them in every respect. We have given a very clear and open commitment, and I have been very open in what we plan to do.

“Our commitment to the people of Harborough is crystal clear. We are going to work collectively and collaboratively, to get the best for them."

The Lib Dem leader has also said they are encouraging scrutiny from the opposition, by offering the role of head of the scrutiny committee to a Tory councillor. He added: “You can’t mark your own homework and this is something I always called for during my time as opposition leader. I have been very transparent about the way we want to run the council and we are not opposing scrutiny.”