TORIES at County Hall staged a mass walkout after their leader Geoff Driver was gagged from speaking about the long-running One Connect saga during a full council meeting on Thursday.
Coun Driver attempted to comment on claims by the ruling Labour group that the now-defunct partnership between the authority and telecom giant BT had overspent by almost £1m a month during its final year.
But when the council’s chairman Coun Kevin Ellard ruled the matter was “sub judice” - a police investigation is currently underway into allegations of mismanagement - the Preston member stormed out, followed by the 34 other Conservative members on the council.
The walkout, which was accommpanied by loud jeers and shouts of “childish” from Labour benches, was criticised by Coun John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport.
Coun Fillis said: “This full council is the ultimate democratic part of this council and these people just walked out on the people they represent, not on us.”
Coun Driver, whose party was ousted from power last year, had tried to comment on what he felt were inaccurate claims by Labour that One Connect Limited was responsible for a £10.4m overspend in the 12 months before it was closed down.
It was the second time in 48 hours that he had attempted to have his say on the issue - he was similarly silenced during a meeting of the cabinet on Tuesday.