A row has broken out after an opposition councillor says he was told he could not speak at a City of York council meeting.
York Labour group leader Pete Kilbane said he registered to speak about funding for playgrounds in the public participation section of a decision session for the executive member for the environment, Coun Paula Widdowson.
But Coun Widdowson said she was not made aware of any public speakers until the meeting had begun and that issues with playgrounds do not fall under her portfolio of responsibility.
Labour councillors have accused the ruling Liberal Democrats of “quietly dropping” a scheme to fund upgrades to play areas based on how broken down the playgrounds are.
Plans to put £150,000 to upgrading playgrounds in the worst condition were changed and instead more cash was put towards fulfilling bids from community groups that applied for money to revamp play areas.
Coun Kilbane said he wanted to speak about the issue at the public meeting – but that he received a call 10 minutes before the meeting to say he would not be able to participate.
He told YorkMix Radio’s David Dunning: “Even if it’s not in Coun Widdowson’s remit, I don’t understand why somebody who’s responsible for parks and open spaces wouldn’t want to hear what I had to say.
“I was going to ask the executive member to intervene and give the money back to the parks that were expecting it.”
He said the decision to award cash to the most run down play areas was made at a public meeting and that it should not have been changed.
Cllr Paula Widdowson, Executive Member for Environment and Climate Change replied:
“I was informed that Coun Kilbane was wishing to speak at a decision session on a topic completely unrelated to the meeting or my executive portfolio.
“Due to this circumstance, as well as the fact that I was not made aware of any public speakers until the start of the meeting, I asked council officers to inform Coun Kilbane that it would not be appropriate for him to dial in to this meeting.
“Coun Kilbane was also informed that if he wishes to discuss the city’s play area investment, he should approach Coun Smalley, who is the appropriate executive member for this scheme.
“All councillors, including Coun Kilbane, have plenty of other opportunities to have their concerns addressed both through officers as well as the appropriate executive members.”
He has now written a letter of complaint to the Monitoring Officer and says he is waiting for a reply