This year’s annual state of the borough debate, which focused on the impact of Brexit, has sparked a furore among Conservative councillors who boycotted the meeting.

The Liberal Democrats invited a group of representatives to discuss the impact of Brexit in front of an audience of councillors and members of the public at the Guildhall yesterday (November 14).

Speakers on the panel included representatives from different segments of society such as business, education, construction and the voluntary sector, to discuss the impact of Brexit on the borough.

After the panel debate, councillors voted unanimously to back the motion to back a people’s vote, which was proposed by Liz Green, the leader of the Council.

All nine Conservatives opted to boycott the meeting last night on the basis that it was a waste of time and money.

Kevin Davis, Leader of the opposition, said: “A local Council should not be spending time discussing things it can do nothing about.

“We would have been happy to take part in the meeting if it were simply to prepare council services for life after Brexit, but instead valuable money and time are being wasted on meetings to discuss national and international politics and sow community division.

“That wasted money and time would be better spent on fixing potholes, cleaning the streets and providing improved services for schools and the elderly.”

Lib Dem councillor Jon Tolley said: “Quite why they refused to participate in a discussion on the biggest issue of the day is down to them.

“One can only assume they don’t want to upset the party line by speaking out for what is the best for the Borough and the country.”

Lib Dem councillor Olly Wehring said: “The meeting and the decision was about Brexit’s effect on the borough not what the council can do to influence Brexit. It’s a wilfully peculiar position.”