Anger as public shut out of Sunderland Council meetings
By Margaret Crosby
Sunderland City Councillors will convene for their first online meeting next month - but there is anger as the public won't be able to have their voice heard.
Sunderland City Council is due to hold its first online meeting of all 75 city councillors on 10th June.
But opposition Liberal Democrat councillors on Wearside have hit out after they were told that the public wouldn't be able to ask questions as usual.
City Lib Dems first secured a change to Council meetings so that members of the public can ask questions of councillors a few years ago.
Reacting to the news, Grindon and Thorney Close councillor Margaret Crosby said:
"We understand that the Council has been focusing on tackling the COVID-19 crisis, but this doesn't mean that the Council's leadership shouldn't be held to account for the decisions they make.
"Given the seriousness of the situation, proper scrutiny and debate is more important than ever. That's why we are so concerned that our Council are avoiding questions from councillors and the public at the upcoming online council meeting, especially when other local councils are still allowing questions and debate even when meetings are being held via video link."It's not a robust democracy if people can't ask questions of Council bosses. The Council's decisions may be correct, but how do we know if we can't get them to clarify their position on important matters?"