A ROW has continued over the ‘spiteful’ move to abolish posts at the borough council.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council agreed at a full council meeting to abolish the role of political assistants at a heated full council meeting on December.

The meeting saw the issue debated over several hours, leading to the motion of abolishing the position of political assistants, who help councillors with their work, being passed.

This was after proposed amendments to the process were voted down, and opportunities for further review were similarly denied.

The Labour group argued there has been no provision made for an assessment of the policy and the Equality Act 2010 had been ignored as several councillors use assistants to help them as they have dyslexia or other disabilities.

Speaking after the meeting, leader of the Basingstoke Labour group, Councillor Paul Harvey, said: “They seem determined to sack them, despite the issues with law, and the disgraceful way they have gone about doing it. It is a spiteful move, knowing that it will undermine democracy.”

The Labour and Liberal Democrat groups currently have assistants though the role for the Conservative group has been empty for more than a year.

Another of the points raised was help assistants gave to newer councillors. Cllr Harvey added: “Being a councillor is a big job and many of us have full time jobs, and the help they give us is very important.”

Conservative group leader, Cllr Simon Bound, said: “There are induction processes, documents, and facilities for new councillors that are available for free. We also have a sort of ‘buddy system’ that pairs new and old councillors that helps as well, which is also free. We feel strongly that we should try to deliver the best service at the lowest cost to our residents, as we were elected to help slim the bill.

“The point about the Equality Act is not a valid argument in my view. It has not caused any issue for us, and there are also councillors who have disabilities in our party.”

It is argued the proposal is still open for legal challenge, which could be the next move from the Labour group.

Cllr Harvey said: “We need to examine the issues and go from there.

“Good democracy costs money. This is a move that undermines the opposition. ”