A DECISION to abandon a scheduled full meeting of Trafford Council has caused upset.

The council’s annual general meeting, due to be held on Thursday, July 30, has been postponed until November.

And the move has prompted opposition Tory calls for greater scrutiny of executive decisions.

Cllr Nathan Evans, leader of the borough's Conservative group, has called for his group and others to be kept more in the loop.

The next full council meeting now won’t be held until September 30 and Cllr Evans said this had ‘alarmed’ his members.

At the beginning of lockdown the council decided, in consultation with opposition group leaders, to temporarily suspend its three overview and scrutiny committees and grant itself emergency powers for an initial period of 12 months, with an option to extend these powers if necessary.

Cllr Evans said: “At a time of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has infected nearly 1,300 Trafford residents, Labour is again restricting the democratic process at the council.

"It was bad enough that decisions of the council are being subject to minimal scrutiny, but now councillors have to wait for another two-and-a-half months to have their voices heard at the next full council meeting.

“We appreciate that the AGM needed to be postponed, but a regular full council meeting could have been held instead which would have allowed at least some scrutiny.

“Other councils in Greater Manchester are continuing with their full council meetings during the pandemic, so why not at Trafford too?”

Cllr Evans added he believed it was ‘vital’ decisions by the council’s administration are ‘effectively scrutinised and debated’.

But Trafford council’s Labour leader, Cllr Andrew Western, said Cllr Evans’ claims ‘didn’t ring true’.

He said there had been twice weekly briefings for all group leaders, which hasn’t been common elsewhere, online committee meetings have been continuing and a special committee has been established to scrutinise the council’s Covid response.

Cllr Western said: “All councillors, including Cllr Evans, agreed to emergency changes to the democratic processes at the start of the pandemic.

“[Ours] have been some of the most transparent and inclusive arrangements anywhere in the country and have been identified by more reasonable and constructive opposition councillors in Trafford as an example of best practice, with the Local Government Association now looking to highlight and showcase our efforts to involve all parties in our response.

“Cllr Evans rightly identifies that the usual scrutiny committees are not meeting at present: it is just a shame he doesn’t appear aware that the pandemic scrutiny committee was established with a specific remit to scrutinise all current decisions the executive are taking including those that would usually go to the three main committees.

“It is simply not the case that councillors are being denied their opportunity to scrutinise decisions and it is disappointing that Cllr Evans would make these claims which simply do not ring true.”