Right royal rumpus over picture

A PROPOSED debate on putting up a portrait of the Queen in a council chamber is causing a right royal rumpus.

Liberal Democrat councillors are angry that part of a council meeting will be devoted to discussing the issue at a time when North Tyneside Council is looking to axe 300 jobs and make massive financial savings.

Six Conservative councillors have signed the motion after the portrait of the Queen, pictured, disappeared from the council’s chamber at its Cobalt Business Park headquarters in North Shields.

The Lib Dems are calling on the Tories to withdraw the motion ahead of tonight’s full council meeting.

Lib Dem councillor Graeme Brett said he was shocked to see the motion among the first items up for discussion on the agenda for the meeting.

He said: “The portrait of the Queen used to be there, but it’s disappeared.

“I am outraged that this is their priority at a time when the council is faced with making millions of pounds of cuts in services.

“The debate we should be having is around the proposed cuts and not about whether a picture of the Queen is present in council meetings.

“It’s farcical. Staff are worried about the jobs, and some councillors are worried about a picture.”

However, Conservative group leader Coun Michael McIntyre said tonight would be the only opportunity the authority could consider the issue for a number of weeks.

“This meeting on Thursday has nothing to do with the budget,” he said. “After it, there are extra meetings to discuss the budget separately and on its own.

“What we’re looking to do is seek to restore the Queen’s portrait to a prominent place in council meetings.

“We’re extremely disappointed and surprised that Coun Brett takes the stance that he has.”