OPPOSITION councillors have blasted a decision not to let a motion on Brexit be heard during a council meeting, with some claiming it to be “absolutely appalling”.

Moved by Liberal Democrat Councillor Gavin James, of Basingstoke South East division, the motion asked for the county council to back a call against central government plans for a ‘Hard’ Brexit and for a ‘People’s Vote’ – which is demanding that Westminster gives the public a final say on the Brexit divorce bill.

But, just after Chairman Councillor Elaine Still asked Cllr James if he wished to proceed with his motion, leader Councillor Roy Perry stepped in to stop it being debated in the chamber. Instead he used powers to have it “moved to the executive”, citing that the full council meeting was not the “right time nor place for this debate”.

This then triggered a vote, with Conservative members voting with their leader to have the issue instead heard at the next cabinet meeting, on December 10, when the authority’s Brexit report will be presented. The vote ended 49 for to 19 against, with three abstentions.

However, emotions soured with Lib Dem members shouting claims of an “unconstitutional” and “cowardly” decision.

Councillor Adrian Collett, member for Yateley East and Blackwater, said during the vote: “I move against this travesty. I am ashamed in this county council.”

Councillor Mike Thornton, member for Bishopstoke and Fair Oak, added: “I am shocked and horrified [by this decision].”

Other Lib Dem members also had their says, with shouts of “farce” and “this is absolutely appalling” thrown at the authority’s front bench.

But Conservative members hit back, with many – notably Councillor Jonathan Glen, laughing and making joking remarks at their political counterparts for their unified persistence.

Explaining his decision, Cllr Perry said after the meeting: “This motion was simply an effort by the Liberal Democrats to use the county council for their own political purposes.

“There was no point in debating it because it is up to Parliament not Hampshire County Council to determine the terms of Britain’s departure from the European Union (EU).

“If the Liberal Democrats want to overturn the result of the referendum that is up to them but the county council has a serious task to do in delivering crucial services not engaging in partisan manoeuvres.”

This decision comes just over a week after Winchester City Council Conservatives prevented a similar motion being put to a vote at the city authority’s Full Council meeting.

This prompted the local Lib Dem’s to blast the Tories following a 23-22 vote to move on the meeting, rather than vote on the motion.

Councillor Gavin James’s motion read: “Council notes that it is now more than two years since the Referendum and the Government still has no coherent Brexit plan that has the support of a majority in Parliament.

“Since the vote in 2016: The performance of the UK economy has fallen behind. It is now the slowest growing economy in Europe with productivity slipping further and competitiveness reliant on the declining value of the pound; Hampshire residents – particularly those on lower incomes – are being hit hard by rising inflation and squeezed pay rates; Confidence among investors and established businesses is ebbing with jobs moving away from the UK; Many non-UK EU nationals resident in the county have had their lives, and those of their UK-national families, destabilised by the uncertainty of Brexit. On top of the social impacts, local businesses and, above all the NHS are losing vital staff; And new investment, which Hampshire relies on for future prosperity, is being jeopardised and new job opportunities are being lost.

“Council believes that a ‘hard’ or ‘no deal’ Brexit will seriously harm the long-term prosperity of all Hampshire residents. With only 20 weeks to go before the UK leaves, it is vitally important that Hampshire County Council speaks up on their residents’ behalf.

“Council calls on the government to abandon plans for a hard Brexit and to give the people of Hampshire a vote on the final deal, along with the opportunity to vote on keeping the irreplaceable benefits Britons currently enjoy by staying in the European Union.”