COUNCIL leaders have been accused of “running roughshod” over democracy in a bid to approve a controversial £8,600 new Mayoral chain.
Bicester Town Council members who opposed the move said a vote was taken too quickly in an attempt to get the chain approved.
Now they are warning they will take their case over the council’s heads unless a new vote is taken. But ruling Tories say the vote stands.
Members approved the £8,636.52 chain on February 11 despite concerns the “vain” purchase was not right during a time of austerity. Three councillors “called in” the decision for review, putting the purchase on hold.
They planned to put forward an alternative on March 26, but Mayor Dan Sames then called an extraordinary council meeting for February 25. The call-in was discussed at that meeting and the chain decision then approved on March 11 at a meeting brought forward from March 26.
But Labour’s Les Sibley and Nick Cotter and Conservative Debbie Pickford said the council should have waited until March 26 for a decision.
They say if it is not resolved “satisfactorily” they will take the matter to the district auditor or Local Government Ombudsman.
Mr Sibley told councillors on Monday: “I believe the calling of an extraordinary meeting by the town mayor and chief officers was a blatant attempt to frustrate and run roughshod over the council’s standing orders”. The move was “to undermine the democratic calling in”.
Miss Pickford put forward an “olive branch” motion on March 11 to call on the council to hold off buying the chain until the complaint was resolved. But it was rejected nine to three by her Conservative colleagues.
Council Conservative group leader James Porter said: “This is an absolute undisputable democratic decision by this council. Everything following is full of bluster trying to put up a smoke screen.
“If people want to put in a complaint let them do so but this council has made its decision.”