Fast Forward – May 2010

A CONSERVATIVE councillor has spoken of his bitter disappointment over being dumped from a new power sharing executive to run South Tyneside Council – after Labour Councillors voted against a recommendation put forward by their leader. Instead they supported an opposition amendment to replace him with a Liberal Democrat.

Cleadon and East Boldon councillor David Potts hit out at a new Lib-Lab pact which has resulted in two of the nine top cabinet spots going to Liberal Democrats and one to the South Tyneside Progressives – leaving the Tories out in the cold.

Councillor Potts had been vice chairman and chairman of the Select Committee for Environment, Housing and Transport and Safer and Stronger Communities challenged the move to replace him with LibDem Councillor Joe Abbott when the new executive cabinet takes control of running the council later this month.

But at a special meeting of Labour councillors, who make up the largest single party on the hung council, members this week voted against the proposal put forward by their leader councillor Iain Malcolm 16-8 to hand the Jobs, Enterprise and Regeneration portfolio to Councillor Potts. 

Said Councillor Potts: “I feel horrible about it.

“It is very disappointing when the Labour leader promised me this position and then his colleagues vote against me preferring instead to make a pact with the Liberal Democrats.”

Councillor Potts said he was surprised by the size of the vote against him especially after he had been given assurances by Councillor Iain Malcolm that the meeting would rubber stamp his appointment.

“Labour councillors had offered a lot of support for me before the meeting, but for some reason changed their minds when it came to the vote.”

He said he would continue to serve as a councillor and now devote his energies to representing his constituents.

Other oppostion councillors to get a place on the cabinet are LibDem Jo Atkinson, Independent and Healthy Lives and Progressive Jim Capstick, Safer and Stronger Communities who today dismissed suggestions that the Progressives, for so long the main opposition to Labour until the rise of the Independents, had sold out.

“We have entered the executive on our terms and with the clear intention of playing our part and using our abilities for improving the borough,” he said.

“It will be run as a non-political executive, if it becomes political and we are dissatisfied with what goes on, we can, at the end of the day, leave it.”

Former Real Independent councillor, George Elsom had been earmarked as the Lead Member for Equality and Diversity until his defection to the Socialist Workers Party.

The main opposition group on the council, the Independent Alliance refused to seek places on the executive because Labour would not agree to a constitution which reflected the evenly split nature of the elected council, opting instead for an executive which left them well in charge.

Independent Alliance group leader councillor Jane Branley said: “We wouldn’t touch this executive with a barge pole.”

Think it couldn’t happen here, well think again – just take a look at the numbers!


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