Dear Sir, It is rumoured that the Labour councillors for the County have an inner circle who decide the policy and inform others how to vote. As we have our own Aycliffe Ambassador on the Council, perhaps he can inform the electorate what the situation is, and if any of our Aycliffe representatives are part of the inner circle, if it exists. Peter Hardy.

Ambassador Replies:

The simple answer is no! There is no such controlling ‘inner circle’. Labour policies for the County Council are decided by a democratic vote of the Labour Group of 96 Labour councillors.  Decisions about the County Council budget are even more democratic, starting with a public consultation exercise and a couple of premeetings at which the Labour councillors explore options.  Sometimes decisions are easy and unanimous … at other times there is fierce debate.  What defines Labour councillors, however, is that – after they have had their discussion and vote – they all then voluntarily go with the collective decision.  Of course the Labour Group has its leaders, who have earned the respect of the Labour councillors.  But the truth is that the leadership does as the Group decides, not the other way round. I have often said that there is a comfort in this for councillors.  Before any Labour Party policy goes to Council, it has been dissected and tested by 96 minds.  And I always feel that there is a presumptuous arrogance about Independents, who assume that their individual personal thoughts are correct.  For residents, it assures them of stable local government, as Council decisions pass decisively. The truth about Labour councillors is not that we are told what to do, but that we WORK AS A TEAM, believing that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone. John D Clare