Labour gags further debate on controversial OAP leisure charges

Haringey Council’s Labour Cabinet last night used ‘urgency’ procedures to ensure there could be no further debate on their controversial plans to scrap free OAP leisure use at weekends, and weekday mornings and evenings. Opposition Liberal Democrat councillors objected to the abuse of procedures that will stop older people, residents and councillors from having their say on this important issue.

The new policy to restrict free leisure use to ‘non-peak’ hours was announced in a Haringey Council press release on 18thFebruary 2008. However, the Labour Cabinet Member, Cllr Basu did not present a formal paper to the Council Cabinet until the very start of the meeting last night (18th March) – ensuring that special ‘urgency’ rules prevented the decision being referred into the Scrutiny Committee for further debate.

No older people or amenity groups outside the Labour Group have been consulted on this ‘peak use’ restriction, as it was not part of the original proposals brought forward in January.

Cllr Richard Wilson, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader, comments;

“Clearly Labour are desperate to avoid any debate on this leisure cut. Hard-up older people are going to have to change the times and days they take exercise because of this decision, but they are still not allowed to have any say on the matter.

“This cut will save just £35,000 from a council budget of hundreds of millions but the impact on many pensioners’ lives will be hard.It is outrageous that council procedures have been abused so that Labour councillors do not have to hear about the problems there decisions are causing local elderly people.”

Cllr David Winskill, Liberal Democrat Leisure spokesperson, adds:

“Cllr Basu’s claims to have consulted are totally spurious – no-one was written to, there was no period of consultation, nothing on the website.”