Anger at “incompetent” jibe

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LABOUR councillors were left angry after being branded “incompetent” during a heated council debate.

The party had called for a discussion on council rents for the next financial year and the Housing Revenue Account budget to be deferred while they got all the documents they needed.

But Conservative group leader on North Tyneside Council, Coun Michael McIntyre, hit out at the request, saying they were playing politics with people’s lives.

He said: “Are the mover and seconder of this motion incompetent?

“The reason why I ask that question is we’ve been circulated by the chief finance officer statistics which they are calling for in the motion, which have been publicly available for months.

“Do they know what they are talking about? Do they know what they are doing?”

He added: “The information was given to the budget study group last December. Why didn’t the Labour councillors sitting on that pass it onto their group?

“This amendment is an act of political cowardice on behalf of the Labour group. They are just trying to score cheap political points.”

Labour group leader Coun Jim Allan hit back, saying: “We sought guidance from the chief financial officer in constructing this amendment.

“I asked on Monday for the information and we only received it at 4pm today (last Thursday), just two hours before this meeting.

“We’re trying to be responsible and not score political points. I recall the Conservatives asking for deferments when you were in opposition.”

Labour councillor Norma Redfearn, deputy group leader and who seconded the motion, demanded an apology from Coun McIntyre but did not receive one.

“I have never been called incompetent in my life,” she said. “Time and time again we’ve asked for this information and it’s not forthcoming.”