There has been a political clash in Reading over appointments to decision-making bodies, with fears raised over a ‘democratic imbalance’.

Appointments to Reading Borough Council’s committees which make decisions on planning developments, licensing, the road network and more have been made following the local elections.

Councillors who won seats in the election have to take on positions on all of the council’s committees and panels.

However, the Greens, who are the largest opposition party, have failed to take up all their allocated positions on the council’s policy committee.

The policy committee is meant to have 10 Labour councillors, one councillor each for the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats and three for the Green Party.

However, cllr Josh Williams (Green, Park) is the only Green party member assigned to the policy committee, which should have two more representatives.

This fact was pointed out by Michael Graham, the assistant director of legal and democratic services at the council’s annual general meeting on Wednesday, May 22.

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Cllr Adele Barnett-Ward (Labour, Thames) lead councillor for leisure & culture seized on the occurrence, implying the Greens are failing to meet their democratic responsibilities.

Meanwhile, cllr Rob White (Green, Park), the leader of the opposition, claimed Mr Graham’s intervention lowered the ‘celebratory’ tone of the meeting.

Cllr White said: “This year we had amazing council election results where Greens were the only party to achieve a net gain of councillors.

“The Green Group is covering more committees and committee places than ever before.

“Greens are working hard on committees holding Labour to account on the lack of affordable housing in the town, worsening congestion, and Labour’s failure to tackle the climate emergency.

“Green councillors are also out all year round knocking on doors, talking to residents and tackling local issues like missed bin collections, potholes and graffiti.

“Given all of that, it was odd that a governance issue was raised at a celebratory meeting where there had been unanimous cross-party support for the new Mayor of Reading, councillor Glenn Dennis (Labour, Kentwood).

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“Dialogue on committee places is welcome of course, interference in trying to affect who political groups assign to each committee is not, and something we think is inappropriate.

“We’ll keep focusing on doing what residents want us to do – work hard for a fairer, greener and cleaner town.”

The Greens were the only party to achieve a net gain of one councillor in the local elections in May, seeing cllr Kate Nikulina (Green, Katesgrove) winning the seat vacated by retiring Labour cllr Liam Challenger.

The Green Party now has eight councillors. They were offered 23 places on committees by the council, and they have taken up 20 of them.

Cllr White touted that Greens are present on all the main committees, and are covering both a greater number and percentage of committee places than any other year.

Meanwhile, cllr Barnett-Ward said the failure of the Greens to take up their three seats on the policy committee will be referred to the council’s standards committee, which deals with allegations of misconduct by councillors, and the renumeration panel, which advises on councillors’ allowances.

Cllr White could have his allowances reduced for not assuming a seat on the policy committee.