A row has broken out between Conservative and Labour councillors on Scarborough Council over the issue of members leaving meetings before they have concluded.
Conservative Hazel Lynskey raised the issue last week at the end of the council’s planning and development committee meeting after three Labour councillors left early.
She said the members could miss crucial votes and should send a substitute if they could not commit.
Labour leader Cllr Steve Siddons, who along with Cllr Eric Broadbent and Cllr Richard Moody, left the meeting before the end hit back, defending the time put in by his party’s members.
Thursday’s planning meeting, which started at 1pm, had 10 items on the agenda and lasted for just over three hours.
Cllrs Siddons and Broadbent left before item 10, plans for Whitby Hospital, and also missed an application to extend the use of children’s rides on South Bay Beach and a tree preservation order request in Hunmaby. All three were passed unanimously.
Cllr Moody left after the hospital application.
As committee chairman Cllr Phil Trumper was drawing the meeting to a close Cllr Lynskey urged him to address the issue of councillors not staying until the end.
She said: “We’ve had a lot of controversial things today and we’ve had three members leave. Those things we had to discuss could have been affected by three people leaving. We are dealing with peoples livelihoods and I think from the chair or from the officers that if they can’t stay for the full meeting they should get a sub.”
Cllr Trumper said she had a “fair point” and the issue would be raised.
However, Cllr Siddons, speaking after the meeting, defended his councillors.
He said: “Labour planning committee members take their role and responsibility extremely seriously.
“Unfortunately, we are also very busy people and in this instance had other important appointments following planning.
“It is unusual for the planning committee to extend to three hours and these meetings had been planned in advance to follow on after committee. It would not be possible to have substitutes standing by in these unusual circumstances.
“As the public know, Labour members play a full and vigorous role in scrutinising planning applications which can’t always be said of all members.”
The three members were present for a tied vote on an expansion of The Bay holiday park, which was approved on the chairman’s vote, and also plans for a retirement village in Filey which was passed by two votes.