Fears over levels of debate at Breckland Council after 15 minute cabinet meeting

Leader of Breckland Council William Nunn. Picture: Ian Burt

Leader of Breckland Council William Nunn. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Questions have been raised about the health of debate at a district council after its cabinet held a 15 minute meeting - 20 months after an infamously brief meeting.

Breckland Council hit the headlines in September 2014 after a full council meeting took just 16 minutes.

The short meeting prompted claims the council's cabinet system meant issues were rarely debated, a situation made worse by Breckland's overwhelming majority of Conservative members - with eight out of 54 councillors not in the party.

As a result, items were added to the full council agenda - including a regular opportunity for members to question the leader.

But the concerns were raised again after March's Cabinet meeting took 20 minutes, and April's just 15.

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Denis Crawford, leader of the opposition UKIP group, said issues were 'sewn up' before meetings took place.

'The Conservative group have private meetings and they've already discussed what's going to happen.

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'I don't think having a council that's so imbalanced politically is healthy at all, but that's the will of the voters,' he said.

Terry Jermy, Labour group leader, said: 'When you have such a large majority there's very little opportunity for debate, and that's bad for democracy.

'I welcome the changes that have been made at full council but there needs to be more chance for all councillors to contribute.'

William Nunn, Conservative leader, said he welcomed more debate, but it was not always forthcoming.

'Part of the reason meetings are so short is because very few other people attend, and a debate needs two sides.

'I've put this to the other groups and said they need to turn up. I'd urge people to come and make me think outside my traditional boxes - it's a healthy part of making decisions,' he said.

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