Scandal-hit South Ribble Council has been accused of a taxi licensing cover-up, months after vowing to be “open and transparent”.
All councillors have been issued a notice saying only members of the General Licensing Committee will be able to access information or sit in on ‘exempt item’ discussions, which only the press and public are usually restricted from.
It comes after the Evening Post revealed South Ribble Council had given a taxi licence to a man suspended by Lancashire County Council and with a history of harassment.
This information was an exempt item leaked to the paper following last year’s outcry that licences were being given without relevant checks and to people with criminal records.
The email to councillors states: “ It was quite clear that the journalist had been able to access information which should have been treated as confidential. This is unacceptable and must not happen again.”
Several councillors are understood to have complained the new rule breaks a Local Government Act regulation stating material relating to any council business at a meeting should be open to inspection by any member of the council.
One councillor who asked not to be named said: “Next week they are hearing a new application and potentially revoking a license and we are not allowed to see any details under a new dictate we’ve received from the director. We’re being heavily scrutinised so let’s do things behind closed doors! It’s a joke!”
Bosses at South Ribble Council are said to be “confident” with the legal position, and say members can request to see documents but would need to show a need. They claim this is in line with other authorities.