Green Caroline Russell party poops ‘secret’ Islington Labour budget meeting
PUBLISHED: 14:09 22 November 2017 | UPDATED: 15:39 23 November 2017
Ever had that feeling when you’re the only one not invited to the party?
That was Cllr Caroline Russell at Islington Town Hall on Monday night – and she made sure everyone knew about it.
As reported in the Gazette earlier this month, Islington’s sole opposition Green member was “uninvited” from an emergency budget meeting in the council chamber – because she isn’t part of the 47-to-one Labour majority.
Though Labour’s meeting was entirely legitimate, it emerged the supposedly neutral chief executive’s office had organised it when it should stay out of party affairs. The council apologised.
But Cllr Russell turned up outside anyway with a “secret meeting” placard. She said: “I wanted, in a light way, to point out to the councillors the lack of accountability in this process.
“This was a very important budget discussion requiring an open conversation. I understand it’s a really difficult situation with government cuts, but having a meeting to get the budget back on track is really shocking as they have dropped the ball.”
Labour council leader Richard Watts responded today: “It was a routine meeting. The thing that is genuinely bizarre about this is that the Labour group has these meetings all the time. If Caroline Russell wants to join in, she should join the Labour Party.”
The meeting was called as the council’s budget is under “severe pressure”. Asked what was discussed, Cllr Watts said: “That’s private.” He insisted: “It was pretty routine and we hold them about once a month.”