Old Owl (OO) has been fully retired for six months now and has nothing but praise for New Owl (NO) and no intention of stirring from the bliss of being able to self-isolate from the day-to-day crises that seem to envelop East Devon and, in particular, East Devon District Council. But OO cannot resist the temptation to say “I warned you” and “I told you so” in equal measure.
Some may recall OO’s warning in May last year that all was not what it seemed with Mr Ingham’s “the Independent Group” (TIG). In summary, OO maintained that it was neither Independent, nor a Group. Indeed, OO chose the name “Tigger Tories” to describe a hastily-cobbled together partnership of so-called Independents with their supposed enemies, the much-depleted Tories.
Rather than form a coalition with the East Devon Alliance and/or Lib Dems, Ingham chose to bring Tories into his fold and offered them plum jobs – such as making Tory and ex-Monster Raving Loony Stewart Hughes Chairman of the Council (that went well, didn’t it!).
Added to this toxic mix were several so-called Independent councillors who, up until just before the election, had espoused completely mainline Tory doctrine and, indeed, were seen almost exclusively in Tory company. These councillors were (and still are) Independents in name only.
OO said it was a recipe for disaster – and indeed it was!
Now we hear from former East Devon Alliance councillor then Independent Group cabinet member Geoff Jung (keep up) that what prompted him to defect from Tigger Tories was Ingham’s plans to bring in even more Tories to shore up his crumbling regime. Jung (who has been an impeccable Cabinet member for the Environment) changed his allegiance (as any honourable Independent Group member should) but, although he says Ingham asked him to stay on in that role, which he agreed to do, only hours later, when the whole Cabinet “resigned” he was told that, in fact, he had just been fired!
So, after Hughes’s disgraceful intervention to save his job and save the Tigger Tories by refusing to call the EDDC Annual Meeting, or indeed any other meeting, prompting Ingham’s downfall – where does that leave us?
A Tory minority
An Independent Group minority
A coalition of at least 4 or 5 different but also vaguely similar groups that make up a +1 majority
Not a recipe for success, as just one or two fence-sitters or sabotagers could bring the whole council down again.
What is the solution?
Well, OO has a radical suggestion! Those REAL independents still cleaving to Ingham should join whatever the new +1 Alliance calls itself (“The Alliance of Independent East Devon Progesssive Liberal Greens with Stragglers” perhaps!) and form a REAL majority of councillors working together for the benefit of East Devon.
Can it be done?
Owl isn’t sure but surely the thing is to TRY – anything is better than the current mess.
Oh, and where is CEO Mr Williams in all this? Rather like Boris Johnson, he is conspicuous by his absence (has anyone looked in his office fridge?). Come on, show yourself, sir – even if it is to show you have every intention of sabotaging the emerging change because it threatens your iron grip – have the courage of your “never change, never explain, never appear at Scrutiny” convictions so we all know where we, and you, stand!
Old Owl is exhausted now and must go for its nap and await the outcome of the meeting to decide whether to have a meeting …. Some things never change!