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‘Cynical’ and ‘offensive’ - row after failed bid to change election timings

PUBLISHED: 15:33 04 February 2020 | UPDATED: 15:33 04 February 2020

Green Party councillor Lesley Graham said a Labour member ascribed false motives to efforts to move the city council from annual to four-yearly elections. Photo: Green Party

Green Party councillor Lesley Graham said a Labour member ascribed false motives to efforts to move the city council from annual to four-yearly elections. Photo: Green Party

Green Party

Councillors have accused each other of making “cynical” and “offensive” comments in the wake of a failed bid to change the city council’s election calendar.

Matthew Fulton-McAlister, Labour, defended his stance, and said it was just politics. Picture: David HannantMatthew Fulton-McAlister, Labour, defended his stance, and said it was just politics. Picture: David Hannant

Green Party councillor Lesley Graham said a Labour member ascribed false motives to efforts to move the city council from annual to four-yearly elections.

But Matthew Fulton-McAlister, Labour, defended his stance and said it was "just politics".

At a city council meeting last week, a Green motion argued that moving to a four-yearly election cycle would save the council cash.

The motion, proposed by Martin Schmierer, stated: "Over the last five years, voters in Norwich have gone to the polls for three general elections, one referendum, one European Parliamentary election, four city council elections, one police and crime commissioner election and one county council election. The cost of holding a stand-alone local election is approximately £170,000."

But it failed to pass and the council will keep to a yearly cycle.

Speaking at a standards committee meeting on Tuesday, February 4, Ms Graham said "untrue" information about the Green's motives had been shared.

She said: "Nobody has the right to not be offended but people do have a right to not have false information put out about them.

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"When people ascribe motives to someone else that may not be accurate, I find it really offensive. I think that's really out of order.

"There was some wonderful oratory but it was totally untrue."

But Mr Fulton-McAlister said: "I think that's just politics. That's just what we do. I don't think you can have any complaints about it.

"We all have an agenda and motives and you must have an agenda for that politically.

"I made the argument that it was put forward rather cynically by the Green Party because it would be particularly beneficial.

"That is fine to have as a piece of political debate."

But Ms Graham added: "My main objection was more about you missing the point of what we were trying to say.

"The ones who benefit from a system are not the ones who are going to change it."

And council monitoring officer Rachel Crosbie said: "If you found something si offensive then you can raise it and I can look at it."

She added: "In terms of a right of reply, I don't think you do have a right of reply but in terms of false information feel free to complain to me."

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