TIME limits on discussions at council meetings have been called a 'travesty to democracy' and is preventing councillors from being held to account, it has been claimed.

Several opposition county councillors have criticised stringent time limits placed on debates at full Worcestershire County Council meetings with important reports - only produced once every two years - resigned to less than half an hour for questioning.

At a meeting on Thursday (September 10), reports by cabinet members were restricted to just half hour slots with five motions from councillors expected to be discussed in just an hour.

Independent councillor Charlie Hotham, who represents Alvechurch near Redditch, said the rigid time limits were an “artificial control on democracy” and it was "crazy" to expect councillors to properly question reports in just 30 minutes.

“It is ridiculous when soft motions that nobody could possibly argue with are debated for 52 minutes even with the whole council in agreement,” he said. “Yet motions from opposition members are pushed to the back and not heard."

The meeting finished half an hour before its scheduled finish time and Cllr Hotham said the council should have carried on until then as a minimum.

“We finished half an hour earlier and I see no reasons whatsoever that motions that weren’t discussed should be considered at the end of the meeting or the actual times for motions should be extended.

“By putting time limits on cabinet member’s reports, that only come round once every two years and is 14 pages long. That’s two minutes a page. It’s absolutely crazy. To my mind, the meeting was a travesty of democracy in that it was very closely controlled by the ruling group and other views were not heard.”

Lib Dem councillor Fran Oborski agreed calling the move the "death of local democracy" and criticised the restrictions as stopping her from doing her job properly.

“Talk about the death of local democracy," she said. "You have cabinet members who are only reporting to the council once every two years and then we’re not allowed enough time to ask them questions. It’s just ridiculous.

"We only got half an hour for each report and you would need at least an hour if not even longer to do the job properly. Basically they are stopping opposition councillors from holding them to account and it’s an insult to democracy. It’s an absolute disgrace."