The Labour majority voted down an opposition amendment calling for greater transparency in the council’s investment strategy.

At a full council meeting, Conservative councillors Cllr Emma Best and Cllr John Moss tabled an amendment for Waltham Forest Council’s investment strategy, calling for a member of the opposition to sit on a shareholders’ board.

The board in question focuses particularly on the property investments and developments made by company Sixty Bricks, which provides the bulk of the council’s housing.

The Conservative amendment said: “Investment decisions should have proper democratic oversight. The council will ensure that it acts in an open and transparent manner, fully accountable to the taxpayers who fund these investments.”

But the amendment was turned down by the Labour group.

Cllr Best said: “A level of scrutiny has been removed from millions of pounds worth of spending. The Labour Group voted against being open, transparent and accountable.

“Conservatives want the shareholder committee to include a member of the opposition to be a ‘critical friend’ so local taxpayers have some reassurance that proposals to invest are properly scrutinised.

“When Ascham Homes ran the council’s housing, there were opposition councillors on its board, why won’t Labour accept this now?”

Cllr Alan Siggers, leader of the Conservative Group said: “I supported the motion on the grounds that I am not convinced that the cabinet and the shareholders’ committee that will make the final decision are necessarily scrutinising as thoroughly as they might.

“What is it that the Labour Group are so afraid of? Somebody should be able to be in a position to challenge the decision, what is wrong with that?

Cllr Siggers then called recent financial decisions made by the Labour cabinet into question.

He said: “So far, we’ve had two cabinet decisions, including the Wood Street Library decision, that financially don’t make sense.

“The Labour Group seem perfectly happy to waste money on an industrial scale.

“Surely, you want some sort of fiscal responsibility being shown. The council has a duty to protect the public purse and as far as I can see that isn’t happening.

“It puts a dent in the whole democratic process and that matters.”

Cllr Simon Miller, cabinet member for economic growth and high streets said: “Decisions about Sixty Bricks are executive decisions of the council ordinarily taken by the cabinet. In this case they relate to a council owned company so are delegated to the council’s shareholder committee comprising cabinet members and senior council officers.

“These decisions are subject to the same scrutiny processes as all cabinet decisions. Each and any decision to purchase and develop land by Sixty Bricks is subject to a thorough and detailed assessment and viability process on a site by site basis.”