Veteran councillor slams conduct of deputy mayor

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Berwick’s deputy mayor has been strongly criticised by a senior councillor for highlighting her concerns about Berwick Town Council in a national newspaper.

An article in The Independent titled ‘Politicians Behaving Badly’ featured the views of Councillor Georgina Hill who has called for ‘greater openness and transparency’ in local government.

Her campaign began after finding out that the council agreed to take on management of the Government’s ‘Mary Portas fund’ to improve high streets in a closed session of the finance committee.

The Independent published a speech given by Coun Hill to council last month: “What is quite often happening in town councils is a town clerk and a civil servant making decisions without the necessary checks and balances that you used to have.

“There is some extreme low-level corruption going on and people have been getting away with making decisions behind closed doors that you would never get away with in Parliament.”

But Councillor John Stephenson, chairman of the finance committee, is furious with his Tory colleague.

“Georgina Hill has made an effort to destroy any good feeling within this council,” he told the environment and regeneration committee.

“In the national press she condemns the lack of transparency in this council. Well, if Coun Hill can find any evidence of lack of transparency among councillors I would imagine they would resign.

“Transparency is there but sometimes confidentiality is needed and that’s what happened at the September meeting of the finance committee.”

But Coun Hill responded: “I still object to the fact it was confidential when there was no need for it to be so.”

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