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Labour and Lib Dem question council plurality
OPPOSITION spokesmen have questioned the political plurality of Cheshire East Council’s (CEC) re-organised cross-party development groups.
Leader of CEC, Michael Jones, said he was using the recent resignation of clr Hilda Gaddum to listen to a ‘wider range of voices’ from ‘across the political divide’ at the authority.
However, only two of the 12 councillors appointed to CEC’s six restructured policy development groups are not Conservatives.
This week, Labour and Lib Dem spokesmen voiced their concern that the groups were still weighted toward the Tories.
Leader of the Labour Group, clr David Newton said: “The Conservatives have a large majority on Cheshire East Council and, rightly, wish to exercise overall control. But I would argue that the allocation of chairs does not match the collective aspirations of the leader of the council.”
The Crewe East councillor added: “In an ideal situation the policy development groups ought to be chaired by the persons best qualified for the job, but local authorities are also political organisations, and that rarely happens because of the way power is distributed.”
Leader of the Lib Dems, Rod Fletcher added: “One of the reasons that the scrutiny committees failed was that they all had Tory chairmen, who seemed in the main reluctant to challenge the cabinet.
“I sincerely hope that the Conservative chairs of the policy committees have learned their lesson and will be more pro active in challenging cabinet members.”
Clr Micheal Jones has stated that the ‘new arrangements will enable far more members to influence policy, which strengthens the democratic process.’
Policy development groups are as follows:
Corporate and performance - chairman Andrew Kolker (Con), vice chairman Peter Hayes (Con)
Finance - chairman Frank Keegan (Con), vice chairman Brendan Murphy (Ind)
Health and adult social care - chairman Margaret Simon (Con), vice chairman Jos Saunders (Con)
Children and families - chairman Phil Hoyland (Con), vice chairman Ken Edwards (Lab)
Environment and prosperity - chairman Bill Livesley (Con), vice chairman Wesley Fitzgerald (Con)
Sustainable communities - chairman Olivia Hunter (Con), vice chairman Stan Davies (Con)