LABOUR and Tory councillors were locked in a war of words last night as the Tories refused to allow further scrutiny of a housing tendering deal.
The acrimonious atmosphere was further darkened as once again accusations were made that officers were leading meetings and attempting to subvert the democratic process.
After a three hour meeting, Chair of the Health and Well-being Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Cllr Wendy Herd, used her casting vote to refuse a Labour application for a review of the tendering process for the Housing Repairs Contract.
Last month, Labour had requested a “Call-In” on the contract decision but this had been refused by Interim Chief Executive Bob Coomber on a technicality.
Chair of the Labour Group, Carl Morris had requested this because: “Transparency is key. This was a contract awarded to Morrisons, a company that was marked lowest on quality and cheapest on price.
“There are still many unanswered questions that a further review panel could throw light upon. It could be that the whole process is correct and we have a blueprint for the future.
All the Tory councillors stressed that there had been a great deal of rigorous scrutiny in the procurement procedure.
The touchpaper was lit when Cllr Herd stated that she would have to take guidance from Bob Coomber on a matter.
Stanford Councillor Terry Hipsey erupted. He said: “You sat there, an hour ago and demanded transparency from the Chief Executive of Basildon Hospital, Alan Whittle and his team but when it comes to taking your own medicine, it is a completely different matter.
“Contracts from a few years ago such as Vertex had a high degree of member involvement. Now we have none.
“I am here to represent my constituents but it seems that we are not allowed to say what we think lest we are up on a discipline charge.”