An unforgiving attack on the scrutiny process that allows faults and problems at the council to be probed was launched on Lambeth Council by one of its members.

Liberal Democrat councillor Jeremy Clyne launched a tirade against political adversaries from the Labour administration who he accused of covering up major scandals.

At last Wednesday’s council meeting he said: “Members who sit on these (scrutiny) committees should remember why they do so, and indeed why some of them receive a substantial allowance, it is to scrutinise and investigate the council and administration’s actions, it is not to collude in covering things up that are going wrong.”

He described alleged attempts on the housing scrutiny committee to stonewall questions about a £5m write-off in the housing department over cock-ups that saw leaseholders wrongly charged for major works to their housing estates and delays to inquiries - that did not show the number of substandard council homes had rocketed to almost half until after the council elections in May.

Labour coun Donatus Ananwu admitted scrutiny committees would not work until people laid down their “political badges”. Conservative councillor Clare Whelan added: “scrutiny is failing.”

Councillors chairing scrutinee committees are paid by an additional £10,797 by tax payers on top of their basic £10,494 allowance.