We are all being told by pollsters that resident’s faith in politicians in general is at an all time low. The antics of the Conservatives and their new ally Cllr Hayward can have made it no better, with their coup on Woodley Town Council at the recent Full Council meeting. The control of the council changed from Lib Dem to Conservative without an elector casting a vote. Since then one of the moves by a newly Independent Cllr Cox to nominate a Conservative to the Leisure Services Committee has been ruled invalid and Cllr Mark Willson’s place on the committee has been revoked.
Phil Challis Deputy Leader of the Lib Dem group said “Lesley Hayward became an Independent when, rather than stay in the Lib Dems whilst the party investigated irregularities in the branch, she resigned from the party and her role of Chair of the local Lib Dem branch at the same time” Phil added “With a single Independent member, the council was hung at 12 seats to each main party and Lib Dems offered to form a power sharing administration with the Conservatives but they chose another course of action”
Beth Rowland, Leader of the Lib Dem group said “In a controversial move, the day before Full Council, Conservative Cllr Nick Cox declared himself Independent, which changed the way that committee places were allocated on proportionality” Beth added “A newly ‘independent’ Cllr Cox then proceeded to nominate a Conservative member for what should have been an Independent position on Leisure Services. This gerrymandering has been ruled to be against the council’s Standing Orders and Conservative Cllr Mark Willson has been removed from the Leisure Services committee with immediate effect”.
Phil Challis said “It is unbelievable that the Conservatives really seemed to think that it would be acceptable to residents that they should have the majority of committee places when they actually have fewer seats on the council than Lib Dems”
Beth Rowland said that “I am also very concerned that in electing Mayor Cllr Soanes to be Chair of Leisure Services Committee, that the Conservatives have politicised the role of the Town Mayor. When Lib Dems were in charge we always took the town clerk’s advice that the Mayor should be above politics and that the Mayor should not be the chair of any of the political committees.” Beth added “I didn’t really need the advice from the town clerk’s as it just seemed to me that is what resident’s would think was the right thing to do! However the Conservatives have other ideas about what is right and what is wrong and this controversial move just confirms to me the contempt that Conservatives seem to have for residents”.
Kay Gilder, chair of the Woodley Town Council Lib Dem Group said “These are not the only irregularities about the events at the Full Council and Lib Dems are making a submission to the Standards Committee regarding some of the issues – this is not just sour grapes – its about making sure that councillors behave in a way that residents should expect”.