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Conservative councillors dismiss 'autocracy' allegations during Constitutional Review debate

Conservative councillors dismissed allegations of autocracy during a discussion about the Royal Borough’s Constitutional Review on Tuesday.

Several changes are being made to the document, which sets out the laws by which the council is governed.

The number of scrutiny sub-committees within the council will be reduced from seven to four, with the removal of principal member and deputy member roles also planned to be introduced next year.

Another change will see the number of signatures required to have a petition heard at full council rise from 1,000 to 1,500.

Cllr Geoff Hill (Ind Con, Oldfield) said this would limit residents’ access to democratic representation.

He said: “We don’t get many petitions at full council; virtually nobody gets past 1,000. If we push it to 1,500 we’ll pretty much eliminate all of them.”

But Cllr MJ Saunders (Con, Bisham and Cookham) said if residents wanted an issue to be debated, they only needed to speak to an elected member to get a topic on the agenda.

He said: “Let us be clear, this conspiracy of autocracy that Cllr Hill is trying to spin is nonsense.

“Any group of residents that have a genuine cause they wish to be debated in this democratic forum can speak to any member of this council.”

Councillors voted to approve the amendments to the constitution, which will be brought in following the Royal Borough elections in May next year.

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