by Alan Dean on 15 April, 2015
Last night saw the last meeting of the full council at Uttlesford. I expected it would be pretty uneventful as the agenda seemed mundane. I predicted a 45 minute meeting; it lasted 75. Everyone was being nice to fellow councillors who are standing down at next month’s election. I paid tribute to members from all parties, including those whom the electorate may decide not to choose again.
Then we came to the nomination of the chairman and vice chairman of the council for the coming civic year which begins in May. The Tory leader, Howard Rolfe, said there had been a consultation (*) and that he would put forward the outcome – Cllr John Salmon (Stansted North) for chairman and Cllr Stephanie Harris (Felsted) for vice chairman.
To everyone’s surprise, Cllr Doug Perry (Saffron Walden Audley), a fellow Tory, jumped up and said he had wanted to put his name forward, but had been told by Cllr Rolfe that he was ineligible because he chairs the licensing committee and the housing board. Cllr Perry had discovered this was not true and wanted his name to go forward. He was duly proposed and seconded by Cllr Knight and Jones. Cllr Rolfe said he wasn’t going to budge from his proposal.
(*) I then reminded Cllr Rolfe that there may well have been a private Conservative group consultation, but no one had consulted the Lib Dem group nor any other group of councillors about who were the best people for the jobs. I reminded the council that the jobs of chairman and vice chairman are meant to be civic roles free from party politics but that open discussion about this was something the Tories don’t practice. I told them there are other members willing to be considered but who would not take part in an unseemly public scrap for high office.
In the end, after much muddle amongst the Conservatives, there was no vote and all three names will go forward to the annual council meeting on May 26th, when the public can expect a proverbial bunfight. It would be further complicated were any of the contenders not re-elected. It has happened before.4 Comments