COUNCILLORS in Knowsley traded blows in a testy meeting today that laid bare the divisions between the council’s parties.

At one point Prescot North councillor, and Liberal Democrat leader, Carl Cashman said a motion by council leader Graham Morgan "looked like it was written by a five year old".

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And changes to Knowsley’s constitution put forward by Labour were heavily criticised by opposition councillors who said they would reduce scrutiny of the council.

The ill-tempered annual meeting was the first since Labour lost three seats to Green and independent candidates at this month’s local elections.

A council’s annual meeting is often calmer than other full council meetings because they tend to focus on procedure  and administration for the coming year rather than on setting policy.

But council leader Graham Morgan’s motion to split the opposition leader’s financial allowance between the Lib Dems and the Greens, who have the same number of councillors, caused anger in both parties.

Neither opposed the move in principle but said a "childish" section at the end of the motion should be deleted.

Lib Dem leader Carl Cashman said the paragraph, which said the Greens and Lib Dems ‘consistently’ acted as a single opposition and worked together to get their candidates elected, read "like something written by a five year old".

Cabinet member for resources Jayne Aston called councillor Cashman’s comments "very offensive" and said the move would allow the council to keep directing money to front line services.

A proposal from Labour to eliminate the opposition’s ability to ask a follow up question of cabinet members at meetings also sparked fury among the Greens and Lib Dems.

Labour argued the rule, known as a "supplementary question" was used infrequently and often only to repeat the question that was originally asked.

But opposition councillors said the move was part of a years-long chipping away of transparency and would damage public trust in elected members.

Green leader and Prescot South councillor Kai Taylor said: “Why at a time when public trust in politicians is  so low would you reduce the checks and balances we have to scrutinise the cabinet effectively?”

Multiple Labour members denied that it would have any effect on scrutiny and councillor Aston said the opposition needed to "calm down".

She said members of the public and councillors would still be able to get questions they had about the council’s policies and governance answered.

Both of Labour’s proposals were eventually passed.

The meeting saw councillor Morgan formally reappointed to the leader position by his colleagues for the coming year – and all cabinet members also kept their portfolios.

Councillor Jackie Harris was also re-elected Lord Mayor by her colleagues for another year.

By Nick Tyrrell