AN IMPORTANT council meeting has been cancelled just hours before it was due to start - with the Conservatives describing it as an "affront to democracy".

The meeting would have been the last full council meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council of the year, but The Argus understands it has been cancelled due to Covid-related issues.

The last such meeting was abandoned early, after a councillor received a positive Covid test.

The Conservatives say they "fiercely resisted" the decision to cancel this latest meeting.

Tory councillors plan to take the matter to the Local Government Ombudsman.

Councillor Robert Nemeth said the decision was an "affront to democracy".

He said: "Seeing another meeting of full council cancelled on the day in this chaotic manner is another nail in the coffin for democracy in Brighton and Hove.

"The Conservatives have been saying for a while that democracy is being chipped away at bit by bit under this Green-Labour Council, with petitions not being taken, meetings not being held and the public and press kept at arm’s length distance throughout the year.

“While other local authorities have made every effort to ensure that meetings are held and democracy has continued this year by, for example, hiring bigger venues, this Council has taken the opposite approach by trying to shut down meetings time and again, with the backing of Labour and the Greens.

“We now find that more time is spent talking about meetings than the issues residents expect to be raised. As Councillors though, we have a job to do.

“While everyone else in Brighton and Hove has returned to work this year, its city council has not, it has been dodging meetings, avoiding scrutiny and keeping the doors of Hove Town Hall firmly closed to the public.

"The services in the city, still being provided remotely, are in their worst ever state."

Cllr Nemeth also said that the decision will be a disappointment to schools who had planned a protest outside Hove Town Hall to coincide with the meeting, as it was their last chance to make their views known to councillors before a decision is made on the school's future.

The protest against plans to cut school admission sizes is set to go ahead despite the meeting's cancellation.

He said: “The Conservative group is appalled by the state of the council this year and its anti-democratic practices.

"We will be taking the matter forward to the Local Government Ombudsman as we believe that the council is not fulfilling its legal duty.”

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