A FORMER Lib Dem MP has called on Colchester Council to stop excluding the opposing Conservative group from decision making and allow all councillors a say.

Sir Bob Russell, who spent 31 years as a Colchester councillor, has renewed his call for the council’s cabinet system to be scrapped in favour of a committee-based one.

Currently, many council decisions are made by eight portfolio holders on the ruling cabinet, which following last week’s election will continue to be a rainbow coalition of Lib Dems, Labour and Highwoods Independents.

However, it excludes the largest party of the council – the Conservatives – which holds 25 of the council's 51 seats.

Sir Bob, who elected as MP in three successive elections, said: “I have maintained this cabinet system is not democratic.

“When we had the coalition in 2010, I was one of those who, in our shopping list, said there should be a return to the committee system.

“It gave local councils the opportunity to jump. But Colchester hasn’t.”

Following last week’s election, the Conservatives entered into talks to lead the council with in a minority administration.

However, it failed and the rainbow coalition is set to continue with its majority of one.

Sir Bob said he believed the decision to continue with the cabinet system was down to officers, as it makes life "easier" for them, and the decision of those currently in power not to implement the committee system.

He added: “It should not be restricted to just eight councillors in the cabinet – nor should it exclude 25 councillors who represent the largest party on the council, double that of either of the two other political parties from whom a small number run the council through the cabinet.

“It’s not good for local democracy.

“All 51 councillors should be engaged in democratic decision making. Everybody should have a say.

“On several occasions I have tried to get Lib Dem councillors to bring in the committee system. If people have been elected we should respect the fact they are here to serve the people to the best of their ability.

“For them to syphon off power to a handful of councillors, I think is not proper democracy.

“I’m far from making a party political point here. I’m trying to dilute it.

“A Conservative councillor has as much to contribute as Labour, Lib Dems or independents and they should not be excluded from that. Neither should any councillor on the council.”