As a result of Monday’s Headlines:
“East Devon District Council leader Cllr Ben Ingham and Independent Group Cabinet resign”
One of the Cabinet members who had “resigned”, Geoff Jung, (previously the Environment Portfolio holder for the Environment) received a number of messages.
He wants, through Owl, to put the record straight.
One message he received read:
“I must write to express my dismay at the goings on at East Devon District Council.
I voted for you in the last election in the hope that you would represent the members of my community, however it seems that playing politics at the time of a national crisis is more important to you and your fellow councillors.
How could you even think of taking the actions you have, you are thinking of yourself, furthering your own aims and totally ignoring those you represent.
I really feel you should consider resigning from your position and give us the opportunity to vote for someone who would be more interested in representing the members of our community rather than themselves.”
The reply that Cllr Geoff Jung has sent reads:
“I am also totally dismayed at the goings-on at East Devon. Unfortunately, not all the information you have read in the Press is correct, nor is it of my making.
I stood as an Independent Councillor with Ben Ingham obtaining a resounding vote against the Conservative candidates. However, a few weeks ago the Leader of the Council, Ben Ingham when realising that his position as Leader was in jeopardy suggested that he would approach the Conservatives to invite them to nominate 3 candidates to be on the ruling “Cabinet” of 10 councillors. This unfortunately was a red line for me. I could not support this proposal, but at the same time I considered that leaving my work as Environment Portfolio holder and a Cabinet member at this time of an Emergency would not be appropriate either. Therefore it was agreed that I could resign as a member of his ‘Independent Group’ and continue in my Cabinet role, “for the time being”
In fact there was an article in the Press only last weekend that quoted Cllr Ingham saying he praised the hard work I had carried out for the Council over the last year, and it would be inappropriate to sack me at this time of an emergency.
On the day following the press article on Monday I received a disturbing Press Release from EDDC and Cllr Ben Ingham stating that he and his Cabinet had resigned on block. At no time did I resign, but I have now been told by the Returning Officer that Cllr Ingham terminated my position and that of 2 other Councillors (which is his gift) and then resigned himself along with the remaining Cabinet on block!
There had been some previous resignations from the Independent Group over the last few months and a proposed vote of no confidence of the leader of the Independents by the Conservative Group in February and therefore a change of administration was expected. The recent move that I have made to the Democratic Group is exactly that. It allows me to retain my independent views, without a party whip. This is a coalition of 21 Independents, 2 Green, and 8 Liberal Councillors who are working to form an administration. We would have preferred a simple handing over at a council meeting, but Cllr Ingham’s decision on Monday, which shocked and appalled me, due to its timing, has left the Council without any administration at all.
We have now set a date for the Council to meet on the 28th May to consider a new Cabinet which is the earliest that the constitution allows.
I hope to continue as an Independent Councillor and provide the help and support to our residents as the exit from this emergency is going to be long and challenging! Whilst I appreciate how shocking this is for all those who voted for us, I can only assure you that I have constantly worked for the good of the community and this was not a “political promotion” on my behalf. I hope this explanation goes some way to alleviating your concerns.”