Councillor Ben Ingham, Leader of EDDC and the Independent Grouphas responded to the article below. He responded in red print, which Owl cannot reproduce, so his comnents are in BOLD and a
One of the reasons so many Independent councillors were elected was because they were not Tories! People had become sick of the way the district had been run for the last 45 years and demanded change. Part of that change was to see exactly what Tories had been up to in those 45 years when transparency was in short supply.
So, on 3 May, we were presented with:
(20 mostly eastern-based/central-based Independents,
(8 from Exmouth & Budleigh area – west)
11 mostly western-based Independent East Devon Alliance)
(Central and eastern)
8 Lib Dems
An alliance of Independents, Lib Dems and Greens would have produced 41 non-Tories – easily outnumbering 19 Tories.
36 would have been a workable maximum. Some were mutually exclusive.
What we now know happened is that eastern-based Independents (Leader Ben Ingham, Exmouth) refused to work with East Devon Alliance.
The EDA wanted to implement a Leadership Board of 6 at the annual meeting 22nd May, which was considered by the Independents as unnecessary, unworkable and definitely unconstitutional.
We assume that Lib Dems (who agreed to work with an Independent majority, but not form a coalition with them), were similarly excluded by Mr Ingham from working with his group.
The Lib Dems refused to join the cabinet or take up any part if the administration. They turned down Lead positions as well.
Instead, Mr Ingham chose to work with the 19 Tories, an ex-Tory (former Tory Leader Ian Thomas) and several so-called Independent councillors whose late-onset Independent roots had never been obvious or put to the test. He gave the job of Chairman of the Council to Stuart Hughes.
The Tories are not in our Cabinet whatsoever. They hold the Chair because we felt we needed an experienced Chair to make sure Full Council is run properly. This is a civic appointment only.
a Cabinet post to Ian Thomas, one of the jobs representing EDDC at Greater Exeter Strategic Plan meetings to Tory Philip Skinner.
that is not a GESP appointment. His influence iinsignificant (sic) or he would not be there.
and several other posts to other Tory councillors.
The outside bodies and panels are as they describe, not within the core team of the council
Owl has no idea what the two Green (Exmouth-based) councillors think of this arrangement.
They too were invited to join the cabinet or take Chairs/vice chairs. They declined everything until they are better acquainted with the Council’s functions, which is understandable.
Despite this, CEO Mark Williams presumably decided that there were NOT 31 Independents, but two kinds of totally different Independents (Independent Group, EDA).
Very foolishly, it was EDA who created the second group, without any consultation. Their leader insisted this was necessary to get the correct seat allocation. For the four previous years we were one group. EDA opted out with no discussion, therefore making the Tories the biggest group! The Independent group of 15 immediately worked to stop this by inviting the other 5 to join them, there was no choice. Otherwise the Tories would have challenged for leadership of EDDC as the largest group!
and declared Tories as the “official opposition” –
Fortunately the Independents did increase to 20, and stopped that happening, no thanks to the EDA!
in spite of them holding Cabinet and other posts.
No Tories in Cabinet
Is this constitutionally correct? How does one decide? One asks the CEO – dead end there, then!
This has led to a Tory (“official opposition”) Alan Dent, being the head of the Scrutiny Committee – the only committee that now has wide investigative powers.
The main opposition select the Chair of Scrutiny, just like we selected Roger Giles 4 years ago
The Chair of this committee can say Yes or No to requests for scrutiny of any subject – his word is the only word on what goes on an agenda (as long as the CEO agrees, of course).
So, is there any chance of the Scrutiny Committee holding the previous Tory administration to account? No, zero, zilch, nada in Owl’s view.
Your opinion, no evidence
So those Tory bodies – lying quietly tucked away for the last 45 years are almost certain to continue enjoying their slumbers.
Your opinion, no evidence
And all because some Independents can’t or won’t work with other Independents and local Lib Dems are keeping themselves well apart where, in other areas, coalitions of Independents, Greens and Lib Dems is promising real change in formerly true-blue districts.
Unfortunately the EDA leadership ruled EDA out by insisting on a leadership board and splitting the Independent Group in two. We were left on our own. The new 5 Independents would not work with the EDA.
What is so ironic about this whole story is that, in his political career, Ben Ingham has been a Tory councillor, an Independent Councillor and Leader of the East Devon Alliance!!!
And you were a die-hard socialist, but claim now to be an independent? All things must pass.
Pitiful and shameful.