Calls for council leader ‘to resign’ after row at meeting

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A council leader has been criticised for a comment he made to a member of the public at a meeting.

Liberal Democrat campaigner, Ross Shipman, addressed a question to the leader of North East Derbyshire District Council, Councillor Graham Baxter, during the public speaking section of a meeting last Tuesday, asking why the council would not be continuing to publish audio recordings from its meetings, given that it had done so at a previous meeting.

Coun Baxter said arrangements had been made for that particular meeting on March 5 because of the level of public interest in a question put forward.

He added that any future decision to record meetings would have to be looked at in line with budget obligations, before saying to Mr Shipman: “Because, as you know, you supported a Government during a period of austerity what meant this council had a 62 per cent reduction in its earnings and as a council we are committed to delivering quality services and some are far more important than the recordings of this meetings.”

Mr Shipman denied the accusation, saying he only became a member of the Lib Dems in 2015.

He then asked Coun Baxter if he was going to be ‘more transparent’ and give residents access to recordings.

Coun Baxter replied: “I am far more interested in the hundred of thousand residents of north east Derbyshire who rely on us for quality services rather than the 300 people who just looked at that recording.”

Coun Baxter then went on to say he hopes Mr Shipman is never elected to the council, which was slammed as ‘out of order’.

After the meeting, in a statement, Mr Shipman said: “Councillor Baxter should be ashamed of his behaviour and bringing the office of leader into disrepute and he should apologise and resign immediately.”

A spokesperson for North East Derbyshire District Council confirmed they had received a complaint from Mr Shipman but said they could not comment further at this stage while they await the outcome.