TOMORROW marks 100 days since the Tory administration was ousted from the leadership of East Staffordshire Borough Council. Ahead of that milestone, the Mail asks: Was it the right move for Burton?
“I ABSOLUTELY stand by the fact it was the right thing to do.”
These were the words of Councillor Julian Mott 100 days after he took over as leader of East Staffordshire Borough Council.
The Labour leader had formed an understanding with the so-called Tory rebels, who defected from the Conservative group to go independent, to develop a cooperative council to oust former leader Councillor Richard Grosvenor.
More than three months on, Councillor Mott believes his new council has many positive changes within the authority, including making it into a more ‘inclusive’ organisation.
He said: “The council before was run by one or two people. It was not listening to what other people had to say.
“We are working with the Labour group and East Staffordshire Independents but we have rarely had any disagreements, and I think we have made a lot of progress. We have tried to involve as many people as possible.”
The creation of an ‘inclusive council’ was one of the flagship policies for the Labour leader when he took to the helm of the authority, and he said much had been done to achieve that.
Other changes he and the cooperative council have brought about, he says, include the introduction of free swimming for children under 16 during summer holidays, the scrapping of the controversial ice rink, and work to replace the bollards. He has also promised a zero per cent council tax rise.
WHEN Councillor Richard Grosvenor was ousted in a landmark full council meeting in February, he warned that the Labour group could undo all of the hard work his councillors had put into balancing the books for the authority.
He has since raised issue with the amount of money the new administration is promising for flagship projects including free swimming and the introduction of the living wage. These measures, he said, would cost the council £225,000, which had to be funded against a background of budget cuts from central Government. He has accused the group of trying to ‘covertly’ raise extra council tax by asking people to pay for a brown bin – something due to be discussed in July.
He told the Mail: “Taking over was not the right thing for them to do. It was a case of jobs for the boys for the Independent members, and it’s galling to see them sitting on the cabinet. They have tried to do some different things, but I don’t see what they have done that’s positive.”
He accused the administration of taking credit for Tory policies and ideas which were put in place under his leadership, such as the refurbishment of Burton Market Hall and changes to the CCTV, which were listed under the corporate plan approved before the previous administration was ousted.
“Now Labour are the third party in East Staffordshire following the Euro elections I am not convinced that these items will do anything to change that. It should be a big worry for them,” Councillor Grosvenor added.