With a packed agenda and big public turnout, there were hopes for a night of lively discussion.

But councillors at City Hall ended up spending much of a three-hour meeting this week arguing to debate the matters at a later date.

Critics have accused Norwich City Council leader Mike Stonard and his administration of "dodging scrutiny" amid a row over the Anglian Square development tax relief and problems with its council housing services.

Eastern Daily Press: Mike Stonard, leader of Norwich City CouncilMike Stonard, leader of Norwich City Council (Image: Denise Bradley)

At a full council meeting, a motion was put forward by Green party members asking the council to consider bringing Norwich City Services back in-house due to ongoing problems with tenants waiting lengthy periods for repairs to be carried out.

Members of the Independent splinter group made of former Labour Party councillors also hoped to bring the Anglian Square regeneration back under the spotlight after the developer was permitted to sidestep millions in tax.

But Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors voted to push these discussions to March, arguing it would allow for adequate time to draft detailed reports on the issues.

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Eastern Daily Press: Karen Davis, an Independent Norwich City councillorKaren Davis, an Independent Norwich City councillor (Image: Newsquest)

Karen Davis, an Independent, said: "We debated not to debate but could have spent time discussing the motions. It's incredible."

Norwich Green party councillor Jamie Osborn added: "It is unacceptable when councillors try to avoid debate on issues that might embarrass them, like the waste of taxpayers' money or appalling conditions in council housing."

Eastern Daily Press: Jamie Osborn, Norwich Green Party councillorJamie Osborn, Norwich Green Party councillor (Image: Submitted)

NCSL workers, a number of whom attended the meeting, also left unimpressed.

Eastern Daily Press: Norwich City Services workers and union representatives outside City Hall before the full council meetingNorwich City Services workers and union representatives outside City Hall before the full council meeting (Image: Owen Sennitt)

Jonathan Dunning, UNISON branch officer said: "It was confusing, particularly as the motion asked for cabinet to look at the issue. Although we appreciate that the matter is on the council's agenda."

But Mr Stonard said the notion that his group were shutting down debate was "absurd" and that the "enormous immediate financial implications" relating to NCSL and the effect on staff needed careful consideration.

"You do not play political games with people's livelihoods" he added.

"Debate is not being shut down, instead we have made space for it to happen."