LIBERAL Democrat councillors taking charge of a crucial Teignbridge Council committee have been accused of ‘marking their own homework’.
Lib Dem members were elected as chair and vice-chair of one of the council’s two overview and scrutiny committees when it met, prompting criticism from opposition parties.
Cllr Suzanne Sanders (Lib Dem, Chudleigh) was elected as chair ahead of Cllr Stephen Purser (Con, Teign Valley). Then Cllr Richard Buscombe (Lib Dem, Bradley) was voted in as vice-chair ahead of Cllr Paul Parker (South Devon Alliance, Ambrook).
‘Traditionally this committee has always been chaired by an opposition party,’ said Cllr Parker. ‘Some would say it’s similar to marking your own homework.’
And Cllr Purser said: ‘It is good for there to be somebody from an opposing group to give some form of checks and balances to an otherwise totally-controlled Liberal Democrat council. I hope people will realise the inequality of the situation that is occurring.’
Conservative group leader Cllr Phil Bullivant (Bradley) said the government’s guidelines stated that having a council’s ruling party in control of overview and scrutiny was not good practice.
He went on: ‘We are uneasy about the ability to scrutinise the decisions of this council by being a part of the same group that makes those decisions.’
Cllr Sanders assured the meeting that the committee would work as one co-operative body, but Cllr Alex Hall (South Devon Alliance, Buckland and Milber) said: ‘I don’t recognise the legitimacy of this committee because you are having the ruling party mark their own homework, and I think that’s dangerous.’