“When it comes to the wielding of power, democracy doesn’t get a look in.”

That is the view of one Shropshire councillor on the current make-up of the authority’s scrutiny committees – which are designed to hold the ruling cabinet and its decisions to account.

Councilor Dave Tremellen, member for Highley, said Shropshire Council has five scrutiny committees but said they are all chaired by members of the ruling Conservative group.

He said the committees should be chaired by members of other political groups as parliamentary select committees are.

He also said that he is puzzled by having a cabinet of 10 people making decisions that impact 311,000 residents.

He said: “You can only attend so many committee meetings that end up resolving nothing and I eventually dropped my regular attendance at committees I wasn’t actually a full member of anyway. 

“That’s how frustrated and angry I had become. It’s difficult to sit there and hear people waffling on and keep your own counsel, let alone your temper.“

He added: “It all has to do with the system of governance that came into being back in 2009, when the old Bridgnorth District Council was absorbed into the new unitary council, the old Shropshire County Council becoming just plain Shropshire Council.

“That change involved a complete change in the workings of ‘the council’. 

“The old committee system morphed into a system called ‘Strong Leader with Cabinet’, in which the leader of the political party with a majority of seats chooses his or her own cabinet, in the same way that a prime minister chooses their cabinet. 

“In effect, decisions affecting the 311,000 residents of Shropshire are made by 10 people.

“There is a requirement in that model for at least one scrutiny committee to oversee the workings of the system; Shropshire has five such scrutiny committees. 

“But while the text books on this model of governance tell you that in an ideal world, whilst membership of scrutiny committees is ‘politically balanced’ – in a way that reflects the balance of power within the council – to achieve a democratic balance scrutiny committees should be chaired by members of opposition parties (as they usually are in parliamentary select committees). 

“But the ruling group in Shropshire are not so stupid to risk adverse criticism of decisions made by a cabinet wholly comprised of members of the ruling group. 

“As scrutiny committees have a majority membership from the ruling group, when it comes to the ‘election’ of scrutiny committee chairs, it’s no coincidence that all Shropshire’s scrutiny chairs are card-carrying members of the ruling group.

“When it comes to the wielding of power, democracy doesn’t get a look in.”

Counillor Peter Nutting, leader of Shropshire Council, has been approached for comment.