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Councillors clash over surprise arrivals in Stourbridge
2:49pm Tuesday 26th June 2012 in News
COUNCILLORS clashed at Stourbridge area committee after the surprise arrival of three new members was slammed as bizarre.
Pedmore councillor Les Jones hit out after ward members for Cradley and Wollescote took advantage of new rules which allow councillors to sit on more than one area committee.
Cllrs Tim Crumpton, Gaye Partridge and Richard Body came under fire from Cllr Jones, who said he had not been made aware they were joining and transferring their voting rights from the Tory-dominated Halesowen area committee.
Cllr Jones said: "I had no idea, this has not been thought through, there is no understanding of the situation.
"It seems bizarre that members will be voting on capital allocations which have nothing to do with their wards in Halesowen."
During a bad-tempered meeting in Wollaston last night (June 25), Cllr Crumpton admitted more could have been done after he came under pressure to explain why their joining the committee had not been publicised.
He said: "We haven't done it as well as we should have, we needed to make sure our residents in future have a voice on area committee, something they have not had for a long time."
Cllr Crumpton later added joining the Stourbridge committee was a long-standing pledge from Cradley and Wollescote ward members.
The normal line-up for Dudley's area committees includes 15 councillors from five wards, the council contributes £10,000 per ward to a fund for community causes within the committee's patch.
The Cradley and Wollescote cash will stay with the Halesowen committee and despite choosing to vote on other Stourbridge matters, the trio agreed not to vote on Stourbridge area capital allocations.
The Cradley and Wollescote councillors' arrival also changed the political balance of the Stourbridge committee to an equal nine Tory and nine Labour councillors, but the new members say allegations of loading the committee in their favour are irrelevant because they plan to scrap area committees as soon as possible.
Dudley's ruling Labour group is currently setting up a review of area committees and aims to replace them with smaller, less formal panels.
Cllr Pete Lowe said: "The area committee structure does not work, we need to take consultation to the communities."