LIBERAL Democrat and Independent councillors are outraged after being frozen out of key positions on Doncaster Council for the second year running at Monday's annual council meeting.

The two groups, who between them have 19 members - a third of the council - have been left without a single chairman or vice-chairman on the council's nine committees.

By contrast the Community Group, which is the council's smallest party with six members, now boasts three committee chairmen and holds the vice-chair of the prestigious Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee. Of the 13 other key committee positions, Labour occupy seven and the Conservatives six.

Furious independent councillors claim the positions were "carved up" at a meeting between party leaders to which they and the LibDems were not invited.

Independent councillor Garth Oxby said: "I am so angry that two so-called opposition parties are propping up this Labour regime. I've never seen anything like it.

"I went out on the doorstep in the run-up to the local elections and quite honestly spoke out against Mayor Winter. I told people that if they voted for me I would oppose his leadership, and I can only assume the Conservative and Community Group candidates said the same thing. But anyone who voted Tory or Community Group might as well have voted Labour."

Margaret Pinkney, leader of the Alliance of Independent Members, explained: "We did have a meeting with all the party leaders, and at that first meeting the Tories said they would support some of our candidates.

"But then there was another meeting and we weren't even asked to attend. We feel that democracy has gone out of the window."

Community Group leader Martin Williams denied that the deal was undemocratic and accused independents of being "sore losers".

He said: "If other political parties can't get their act together then we are quite happy to fill the political vacuum.

"The leader of the LibDems never got in touch with us. Margaret Pinkney phoned me to say 'let's talk' but never rang me back. That's their fault, not ours. We're not propping up anybody."

But Liberal Democrat leader Patrick Wilson countered: "It's true that I didn't enter these discussions - to me it is a commendable position. Why should I put out the olive branch when it is not reciprocal? I am sure nobody in my group would have wanted me to do any kind of deal with Labour."

He added: "I think it was a farce. If you look at the numbers in each vote they were consistently the same. It was blatant block voting and I know that, whoever I put up for a position, they would not have got in."

Group leaders Stuart Exelby (Labour) and Barbara Hoyle (Conservative) were unavailable for comment.