LABOUR councillors have been accused of a "power grab" after deciding to chair most of Bradford Council's powerful scrutiny committees themselves.
Angry opposition parties have now questioned how effective Labour councillors will be at holding their own bosses to account.
The Labour group, which won overall control of the Council in this year's local elections, today appointed its own councillors to chair three of the Council's five overview and scrutiny committees, which examine the decisions of the Labour-led Executive.
Last year, all but one of the scrutiny committees were chaired by non-Labour councillors - an arrangement set out in the Council's constitution - but at the Council's annual meeting, the Labour group pushed through a change to the constitution removing this requirement.
After the meeting, Liberal Democrat leader Councillor Jeanette Sunderland said: "This now makes a complete and utter mockery of scrutiny of decisions made behind closed doors by the Labour group.
"I am shocked, I am astounded. In almost 20 years on the Council I have never seen such a grab to get Council decision-making taken behind closed doors."
Councillor Glen Miller, leader of the Conservative group, said: "Labour could have taken them all. As it is, they have chosen to leave two - one with the Greens and one with us.
"Why they decided to do that, we can only guess. Whether they need the three votes of the Greens, only time will tell.
"As for the Executive being scrutinised by their own team, and looking at the chairmen they have appointed, again only time will tell whether they are going to fully scrutinise the Executive."
Councillor Imran Hussain, deputy leader of both the Labour group and Bradford Council, said for a year it had already had one Labour councillor chairing a scrutiny committee - Councillor Rizwan Malik on the Corporate scrutiny committee.
He defended yesterday's changes, saying: "When it was a Conservative and Liberal Democrat-run Council, there were similar arrangements."
Coun Hussain said when someone was chairing a scrutiny committee the important thing was that they did a "proper job", not what party they were from.
He said: "If we wanted to play that kind of politics, there's nothing stopping us taking all five of the scrutiny committees."
Tory Councillor Andrew Mallinson has been replaced with Labour's Councillor Ghazanfer Khaliq as chairman of the regeneration and economy overview and scrutiny committee.
Meanwhile, outgoing health and social care scrutiny chairman, Conservative Councillor Mike Gibbons has stepped down to become Lord Mayor. He has been replaced by Labour's Councillor Vanda Greenwood.
Councillor Malcolm Sykes (Con) remains chairman of the children's services overview and scrutiny committee, while Councillor Martin Love (Green) remains chairman of the environment and waste management overview and scrutiny committee.