IT SEEMS that Winchester city councillors cannot go more than a month without arguing over transparency.

The age-old debate came up once again at a recent scrutiny committee.

Chairman of the performance panel Cllr Caroline Horrill gave a brief verbal update on the group's findings.

She was met with a swarm questions from committee members – most doubting the transparency of the panel's documents.

Cllr Dominic Hiscock said: "I know these documents are publicly available, but when did the public get a chance to comment in consultation?

"They were uploaded to the website just a couple days before this meeting."

In response Cllr Horrill said: "All documents flow through the process. The point of the panel is to analyse these documents, spending hours, and summarising them for you in this committee.

"The reports are public and we follow a very hard timetable. I refute these claims about transparency. Everything is available in the public domain."

Chairman of the scrutiny committee, Cllr Caroline Brook, pointed out that members of the public are able to speak at the committee's meetings if they register.

She said: "It's crazy to suggest that the panel does not work in the public domain.

"It is an item on the agenda and anyone can register to speak at these meetings."

Cllrs Hiscock is a Liberal Democrat, and Cllr Horrill is the leader of the Conservative group on the city council.

Just two weeks ago at a cabinet meeting, a Tory accused the city council's Lib Dem administration of working behind closed doors.

Things got heated at a cabinet meeting when Cllr Linda Gemmell questioned the leader's transparency.

A debate ensued, with Cllr Gemmell saying the leader was "all talk and no trousers". The Mayor of Winchester Cllr Patrick Cunningham had to end the discussion.