THE Mayor of Copeland has blasted “disrespectful” Labour councillors for “shunning” Millom after they voted to change a meeting venue.

Copeland Council was scheduled to meet in Millom on February 19, but Labour members voted to move the meeting to Whitehaven.

But the Labour Group has hit back, insisting members were not against the principle of holding meetings in Millom “during the summer months”.

But mayor Mike Starkie accused the Labour group of “using their numerical majority” to orchestrate the moving of the meeting to Whitehaven.

He added: “It is disrespectful to the people of Millom that Labour clearly did not want to travel to Millom and then seized on a loophole to vote against the meeting being held where it was intended.

“The whole Labour group with the exception of the two Millom based councillors who abstained, voted for the change of venue to Whitehaven.”

The same meeting was held in Millom Palladium last year, meaning one budget meeting was held in the north and one in the south of the borough.

The same thing was scheduled to happen this year, but the venue was not confirmed.

The February Budget meeting is the one Full Council meeting scheduled annually to take place in Millom.

The Conservative group and the Mayor felt “strongly” that the meeting should have been held in Millom to give the people of Millom the chance to host a full council meeting.

It was also felt that this was only fair given that members from the south of the borough travel up to Whitehaven “every week of the year”.

But Coun Raymond Gill, Leader of the Labour Group, hit back at the mayor and insisted that there were practical reasons for holding the meeting in Whitehaven.

He said: “I have eight grandsons and two sons in Millom – my eldest is a warden at Haverigg Prison.

“But the vast majority of councillors live in a two mile radius of Whitehaven. “The view was that, because of mileage to and officer time, it would cost the council a lot of money [to go through to Millom].

“What we have said is we don’t mind going through the summer months. Last year we had the same meeting in Millom and a whole load of councillors didn’t go because of the winter weather and bad roads.

“And so members felt the annual meeting should be held there when there is more clement weather.”

He added: “The mayor has to understand that he is not the council – he needs to get that into his head.”