A ROW has erupted between councillors over the ‘ulterior motive’ behind the allocation of councillor roles at a raucous meeting in Bracknell.

A special meeting of Bracknell Town Council took place to reorganise committee assignments on the council.

Yet opposition councillors lambasted the quick calling of the meeting, and accused the ruling Conservatives of having an ulterior motive.

The meeting was kicked off by Sanjeev Prasard, Bracknell Town Mayor (Conservative, Bullbrook), who said:  “Basically, this meeting is to bring in new members to the committee’s to invigorate that committee membership, and it gives a chance for new councillors who haven’t had the opportunity to get onto the community committees to actually join the committees, so that’s what this meeting is about. And I want to make that absolutely clear from the very beginning.”

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However, Labour councillors argued that new members are allowed to be ‘co opted’ onto any committee they like anyway – which means they are free to attend committee meetings to gain experience but are not allowed to vote.

Cllr Paul Bidwell (LAB, Priestwood) explained: “You say at the introduction new members to the committee will get them right out and have an understanding of how commissions work and experience. First any council member from this town council has been allowed to be co opted for any committee meeting.

“Indeed, when the last term, when Cllr Danielle Turner got elected, he came along to a meeting to understand how that works. Certain things need to change for that unless there’s some ulterior motive. This council, normally has got a timetable in a structured way, not as it seems to be at moment, where it’s ‘last minute.com something’s gone wrong’ we need to have this meeting.”

Cllr Turner (LAB, Crown Wood) added: “I can only echo what Mary and Paul have said, I’m quite disturbed, as to how this has come about so quickly. There was very limited timing with regards to the notice of this, and I don’t think it’s acceptable that we should be made aware of the proposals, three hours before the meeting it is disgraceful. It makes me wonder why this has come about, why we suddenly need 30 per cent of the Council on the Millpark improvements panel, it begs the question what’s going on? Why could this not have waited until the Annual General Meeting (AGM) , and the relevant parties co opted on the meetings in the meantime?”

AGMs where voting councillors are assigned to committees are held every May.

Bracknell News: Bracknell Town Councillor Danielle Turner, Labour representative for Crown Wood. Credit: Bracknell Town CouncilBracknell Town Councillor Danielle Turner, Labour representative for Crown Wood. Credit: Bracknell Town Council

The allegation that the Conservatives were packing the committees with their own members was challenged by Cllr Marc Brunel-Walker.

Cllr Brunel-Walker (CON, Crown Wood) said: “We have been accused of having some form of ulterior motive and as part of the group that when we’re looking at all of this, I’m not aware of it, so perhaps Cllr Bidwell would like to enlighten all of us as to this supposed ulterior motive which he’s accusing us of having.”

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At that point, Cllr Prasard and Cllr Chris Turrell (CON, Harmans Water), the leader of Bracknell Town Council called for a vote on the addition of members to the new committees.

The meeting was called following the removal of Cllr Malcolm Tullett from the Conservative group on the town council. He now stands as an Independent Conservative. It also follows the election of James Alexander (CON) as a councillor for Great Hollands in a by-election held during the Local Elections in May.

Bracknell News: Cllr James Alexander, Conservative town councillor for Great Hollands SouthCllr James Alexander, Conservative town councillor for Great Hollands South

As a result of the meeting, Cllrs James Alexander and Dianne Henfrey (CON, Wildridings) were added to the Strategy and Finance Committee, and Cllr Marc Brunel Walker was added to the committee as a substitute member.

Cllr Alexander was added as an additional member of the Environmental Services Committee.

Cllr Isabell Mattick (CON, Harmans Water), and Cllr Alexander were added as additional substitute members of the Carbon Reduction Group.

Finally, Cllrs Alexander, Anna Kempster (CON, Hanworth) and Stuart Foston (CON, Old Bracknell) were all added to the Mill Park Improvements Group.

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During the votes, Cllr Tullett (Independent Conservative, Old Bracknell) said he was voting “against the process, not the people”. He retains his chairman position on the Mill Park Improvements Group.

Following the meeting, Cllr Chris Turrell said: “It is important the Council is in a position to be responsive to concerns raised by our residents. We also seek to provide development opportunities for our newer councillors” said Cllr Chris Turrell, leader of Bracknell Town Council.”