A leading opposition councillor has questioned why senior councillors have agreed on a recommendation for new budget when public consultation on that budget was still ongoing.

Last night (February 10), Hertsmere Borough Council's Executive committee met virtually to agree on a recommendation for the council's revenue budget for the forthcoming year.

The budget proposals, which includes a rise in the amount of tax residents will pay to the borough council, were tabled by finance portfolio holder Cllr John Graham, who told members of the committee the budget "went out for consultation with the public", revealing "the results of that consultation" were shared in the report in front of councillors that evening.

But Labour group leader Jeremy Newmark, who was sitting in on the meeting as a non-executive member, pointed out to Executive members and council officers that the public consultation was still ongoing because the deadline was not until February 14.

"We either have a meaningful public consultation or we don't", Cllr Newmark said in the meeting.

He added: "I'm finding it hard to understand why if the public consultation continues until midnight on February 14, how exactly are we going to be factoring in comments from the public on this budget? Is it going to have to come back to the Executive if there are public comments we want to take on board?"

Screengrab of Cllr Jeremy Newmark speaking as a non-executive member at Hertsmere Borough Councils Executive committee meeting on Wednesday night. Credit: Webcast

Screengrab of Cllr Jeremy Newmark speaking as a non-executive member at Hertsmere Borough Council's Executive committee meeting on Wednesday night. Credit: Webcast

Cllr Newmark later added the consultation could not be labelled "serious" if final proposals are tabled before the consultation has ended.

Cllr Graham revealed in the meeting the consultation had led to "a total of five responses" being received from members of the public about the budget proposals.

The council says officers will "continue to monitor" any comments made up until February 14.

A council spokesperson said: "All local authorities work to a similarly tight budget setting process with legislative requirements to have the council tax position agreed by the early part of March.

"The budget consultation remains open until February 14 and officers will continue to monitor any comments received up until then. We have posted regular reminders on our social media channels making sure people know how they can register their comments.

"Any significant comments will be summarised in the budget consultation section of the final report which will be considered by February’s full council meeting."

The full council meeting will take place on February 24 when a final decision will be made on the council's revenue budget.