Calls for a ‘Robin Hood’ tax on banks led to a dramatic walk-out by Stroud’s Conservatives on Thursday night.
They refused to debate a motion calling for a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) to raise money for local services.
Instead the 18 Conservative councillors walked out of Stroud District Council's meeting.
If they had stayed in the council chamber at Ebley Mill and voted they would have defeated the proposal by Green party councillor Molly Cato.
She called for an FTT of 0.1 per cent on the exchange of shares and bonds, explaining that Stroud District Council’s investment in the local community had been hit by government cuts.
“Although this is portrayed as inevitable this is far from the case. The cuts are the consequence of financial mismanagement on a grand scale. Yet those who took the risks are still profiting, while the vulnerable pay the price,” she said.
“The British banker is the wrong side of history. The rest of the world is moving on from an era when it was respectable for a tiny number of people to profit at the expense of the rest of us.”
She told the remaining councillors that the government grant to local authorities had been cut by 28 per cent but that a Financial Transaction Tax, dubbed a Robin Hood tax, could raise £20billion, and 11 European countries were introducing FTT.
Revenue from FTT could help repair the damage caused by cuts in public services since 2010.
Councillors agreed to join other councils to persuade the Government to extend the FT, write to the Chancellor and other ministers supporting the FTT and publicise its support.
The motion was carried after Labour and Green councillors voted in favour. But the four Stroud Liberal Democrat councillors and one independent voted against. Had the Conservatives been in the chamber the motion would have been over-ruled.
Before leading his colleagues out of the room ahead of the debate, Conservative group leader Coun Keith Pearson said: “Issues that are making a party political view should be left to the party machine and not take up council resources.”
However following their departure the council’s legal advisor Karen Tricky advised that anything which directly affects the council can be debated and that included Coun Cato’s proposal.
The Conservatives also refused to take part in a debate calling for support of a campaign to protect and boost local councils' decision-making powers in the wake of government cuts.
Chairman of Stroud District Council, Coun Dennis Andrewartha, said the walkout had left many of Stroud’s electorate unrepresented in the debate.
“It is disappointing. The debate is poorer because of it,” he said.