Merton Council’s amendment of a residents’ motion resulted in 21 conservative councillors refusing to vote at last night’s full council meeting.
The Labour controlled council amended a motion put forward from the Wimbledon Community Forum with regard working in a "proactive and meaningful way" way with residents.
The original motion from residents in the Wimbledon Community Forum:
This Council agrees to work proactively and in a meaningful way with residents in South Wimbledon to develop it into a vibrant and thriving community, that is culturally and economically progressive, and which respects its rich heritage.”
The amended version:
The Council notes the work undertaken by the council to date, including renewing the entire length of Merton High Street, and agrees to continue work proactively and in a meaningful way with residents in South Wimbledon to develop it into a vibrant and thriving community, that is culturally and economically progressive, and which respects its rich heritage, and as part of this welcomes the work that is already underway to develop a South Wimbledon Enhancement Plan as a result of a partnership approach between the council and local residents.
The mechanism that allows residents to put forward motions to the council has been widely approved of but, by altering the original, Labour were accused last night of ignoring the will of the people and using it to toot their own horn.
After describing South Wimbledon as the "jewel in the crown" of Merton, Labour Cllr Katy Neep said: "The voice of residents is at the heart of this motion."
However, Cllr James Holmes, who questioned how he could vote on something that was altered in such a way, said to Labour councillors: "It’s not your motion, it’s not my motion, it’s the residents’ motion."
He added: "How can we vote for it now?"
Utterly bizarre that Labour think it appropriate to amend a motion drafted by residents. Complete contempt for the views of residents— Merton Conservatives (@MertonTories) April 12, 2017
Cllr Holmes said he was "very disappointed" by the amendment.
He said: "Residents and councillors on both side of the chamber worked very hard on this.
"Then Labour decided the residents' motion wasn’t good enough."
He urged residents to try again adding: "I hope Labour don’t frustrate them this time."
Cllr Mark Allison, Deputy Leader of the Council, said: "Residents will be very disappointed that the Conservatives refused to vote to welcome the work of the South Wimbledon enhancement plan.
"This is a great initiative, and it's disappointing that petty politics from the Tories nearly undermined the work a lot of residents have put into it."
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