Lib Dems’ power anger

The ruling Conservatives at the town hall have been accused of ‘rough politics’ after snapping up all the top jobs on the council.

At the first full council meeting on Monday, following the elections earlier this month, the chairmen and vice-chairman of the three committees - finance, general purposes and planning - were confirmed.

But no sooner had new mayor Sandy Sutton and her deputy, John Humphries, been inaugurated, accusations from the Lib Dem group of unfairness surfaced.

Lib Dem group leader Steve Gazzard argued that, because 13 Conservatives, 11 Lib Dems and one independent were elected to the town council, the six main posts should have been proportionately distributed - with some jobs going to Lib Dems.

Cllr Gazzard said: “I know that this has already been agreed, but we are bitterly disappointed.

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“It would have been fairer to share these posts.”

Lib Dem Eileen Wragg said: “This really is very rough politics.

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“You have a working majority of one and you have grabbed all the chairs and vice-chairs of every single committee, when, effectively, you only have a working majority of one.”

But Conservative Pauline Stott said that, when the Lib Dems had control of the council in its first year in 1996, they did the same thing.

But this was countered by lone independent councillor Trevor Cope, who backed his old party and said: “I am a longest serving councillor and there were approaches made.

“This seems very unjust. When the Lib Dems were in control, posts were offered to independents.”

For a period in the first year of the town council, there was an independent deputy mayor in Sybil Cardy and an independent planning chairman in Graham Kirby, despite the Lib Dem group having 19 councillors on the 25-seat council.

But Conservative councillor Richard Turner, the new finance chairman, said the argument was ‘ridiculous’ and they should move on, while Cllr Sutton said the posts had already been agreed.

Town clerk John Wokersien said the division of the chairmanships of the committees was ‘a matter for the councillors’ and the political groups.

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