Council leader criticises county officer after he refused to hold a ‘state of the roads’ meeting in public
A county council officer has been criticised by a city council leader after he refused to take part in a meeting if the media was present.
The virtual meeting was set up to explain why roads in Ripon were in poor state of repair.
Karl Battersby, Corporate Director, Business and Environmental Services at North Yorkshire County Council said he was “not prepared to have the discussion with the media present.”
The issue of the roads around the city of Ripon is one that many members of the public have complained about. The Independent run City Council has made many representations to the Conservative run County Council over the matter.
It’s been pointed out that while some laybys in Wensleydale have been resurfaced there are still potholes in the centre of town. It’s also been made clear that the Highway Maintenance Government Grant has been cut by £4m, which is not helping.
Council Leader Andrew Williams had written to Mr Battersby requesting that either he or the Cabinet Member or indeed both attend a meeting of Ripon City Council which, said Cllr Williams, is a public meeting and open to scrutiny by everyone.
He said it was agreed it could be a virtual meeting but that should be open to the media to watch. Cllr Williams said he thought that the public needed to hear the explanations of NYCC on this matter.
Mr Battersby said he did not want the media in attendance saying it was a discussion between “ourselves” and not a public meeting.
Cllr Williams told YorkMix that Mr Battersby asked that the meeting could be done over the internet as many meetings have been done since covid. But the law prevents formal council meetings being done online now so this had to be an informal meeting.
“We still wanted the media to be present as they would be if the meeting was held in person at the council.
“The Director refuseds to allow you (media) access despite my best efforts. He wishes to remain in his ivory tower and avoid public scrutiny which I think is unacceptable.”
The meeting went ahead without the media and Cllr Andrew Williams Leader Ripon City Council, issued a statement saying: “I am confused as to why NYCC were not prepared to admit the press into the meeting as it was constructive and cordial.
“We discussed a number of roads which are of concern to local residents and have made some limited progress.
“The situation has not been helped by a central government which claims to have a levelling up agenda for the north but has reduced this year the highway maintenance grant by £4m, not levelling up at all in reality.”