08:01 Monday 24 February 2014

Fate of council leader to be decided tonight

Written byHELEN KREFT

TONIGHT could mark an historic moment in the history of Tory-run East Staffordshire Borough Council as its leader faces being overthrown.

Labour leader Councillor Julian Mott could, instead, be sworn into power tonight if a motion to remove current Tory chief, Richard Grosvenor, from the top role, garners the most votes.

Ahead of the crucial council meeting, both leaders have now spoken out.

Councillor Grosvenor, in possibly his last interview as council leader, defended his running of the authority and added that his party was voted in by the Burton electorate.

He said: “It would be very disappointing should the council change control as we are a well run council. By any objective evidence we deliver value for money services, reduced council tax and investment in our communities and regeneration projects and year on year improvements to our KPIs. So this move is not motivated at all by how the council performs. So to change when the public at the ballot box have voted for a different political control than the one they will be given is particularly galling for the residents and for me, not only as the leader who has been privileged to lead through those times but also a resident who believes in democracy.”

The rare move is the first that Councillor Mott has experienced, saying: “Certainly in my experience I have never known it to happen after 23 years on the council. It is not something which we have taken lightly but we have been planning it for some time.”

The Labour leader revealed that the motion was made following three months of ‘serious’ talks with the four Tory rebels who quit the party last year, losing the Conservatives their majority.

He said: “There are some issues we will need to look at and will review and make some changes but it is not just about these issues, it is also about the style of council. There has been very secretive decision making (by some Tory members) where no one else knew what was going on.”

Defending the fact Labour has not been elected into power, he said: “It reflects how many Conservative councillors felt the way the council is run.

“I believe we will be able to offer an inclusive and consensual council with far more democracy than in the past.”

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