A plan to hold a referendum in Nottinghamshire over scrapping district and borough councils has been rejected.
A group opposed to the ‘super council’ had put a motion calling for a county-wide referendum to be held.
Earlier this month a cross-party meeting was held, which the press was denied access to. The motion also called for these meetings to be held in public.
A detailed plan is currently being put together by Nottinghamshire County Council for the new ‘super council’, with a public consultation expected early next year.
It would see a new council created for Nottinghamshire, and supporters say it would save £20 to £30 million a year and make it simpler to provide services.
However critics fear it will cost too much to set up, and would remove local decision making.
Now the Ashfield Independent Party, which opposes the plan, has attempted to hold a debate on whether to have a county-wide referendum on the plan.
It hoped to debate the motion at a full council meeting this Thursday, which is open to the public.
But the council rejected the debate on technical grounds. The independent council officer who made the decision not to allow the motion to be debated said because a plan to draw up a business plan was passed by a committee in July, no amendments could be made to that plan for six months.
The council also said the public’s voice will be heard in the full consultation.
Councillor Jason Zadrozny, who represents the Ashfields ward for the Ashfield Independents, said: “I am appalled that the county council will not even listen to our arguments.
“We were very clear about our motion to the council – that any business case for change should be decided by the people and not self-interested politicians.
“The Conservatives who run our county council want to scrap eight local councils and we think the public should make the decision.
He said he was not happy at the decision of council officer to “gerrymander” the democratic process, meaning to manipulate the boundaries of the county to favour the Conservative party.
Councillor Zadrozny is also the leader of Ashfield District Council, and said he was considering holding a referendum on the issue in Ashfield on the same day as local council elections in May next year.
Marjorie Toward, monitoring officer at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “Local government reorganisation has been comprehensively debated twice by councillors recently – both at the last full council meeting and policy committee.
“The county council’s constitution stipulates that decisions taken at council or committee meetings should not normally be altered or amended within six months. I considered that the proposed motion would have altered those original decisions.
“In order to make a reasonable decision on such a significant matter, the council would have needed more information than what was contained in the submitted motion.”