THE ousted leader of East Staffordshire Borough Council made a last stand after being overthrown by his authority colleagues by passing a message to his successor – we will be watching.
In a nod to the actions of ex-Treasury secretary Liam Byrne when the Coalition came to power in 2010, Councillor Richard Grosvenor penned a note on the whiteboard in his former office offering a warning to the new administration.
But where Mr Byrne informed his successor that the coffers were bare, Councillor Grosvenor left rather the opposite warning.
“Dear Julian, unlike your lot we are not leaving the place bankrupt. There is money left. We will be watching. Lots of love, Richard,” read the note, which was posted on Councillor Grosvenor’s Twitter feed.
Councillor Mott, who took the leadership from the Tory councillor last Monday following a motion supported by Labour and the Independent group, said he ‘had a bit of a laugh’ when he saw the post on Twitter.
However, he added: “There has been some good news about the budget for the council, but we have got to remember that the Government grants to the council have gone down by 58 per cent in real terms. It’s a lot of money for the council to lose and still provide the quality of services which people expect.”
Labour has since been criticised for providing ‘jobs for the boys’ to the Independent councillors – all former Conservatives – in exchange for support to overthrow the Tories.
Two of the group have now been given cabinet posts, with Councillor Robert Hardwick as deputy leader for cultural services and Councillor Malcolm Barrett as deputy leader for programmes and transformation. Councillors Nathan Birnie and Peter Ball, have become deputy mayor and chairman of the licensing committee respectively.
There have been calls for the quartet to resign and stand for a by-election in the name of democracy, but they have refused.
Instead, they requested the resignation of absent Tory councillor Maggie Fowkes, who moved to Norfolk last year.
Councillor Mott said: “You can’t cover the role of a councillor purely by telephone or email. We don’t think she can do her job and it’s unfair.”
Councillor Grosvenor, who remains leader of the Tory group, supported the Stretton representative.
“I know it is a source of some frustration for some people. She has moved to Norfolk to pursue a new job, she has access to emails and can be contacted and works with Len and Rebecca to resolve issues that residents have. She attends council meetings and in fact was at the last council meeting representing her residents. She also gave up her councillor allowance when she moved to Norfolk. She did offer to resign if you recall during the full council meeting, and said she would do so gladly if the Independents also gave their electorate that democratic opportunity. They did not take her up on that offer,” he added.