Owls’ first impressions on the “Changing of the Guard” at EDDC HQ Blackdown House . 

Based on what we know so far and after two Owls put their heads together.

Why is this Cabinet  so different?

It’s a mixture of a new culture based on adherence to the Nolan principles and a new direction.

There are three new cabinet portfolios: Democracy and Transparency; a new focus on Covid and on climate change. There is also the creation of a group of unpaid understudy posts (Owl’s term for assistants) to strengthen key portfolios. It  gives four relatively new councillors the opportunity to shadow more experienced members and provide a wider range of view. These seem to have been mostly drawn from the younger end of the council age group.

On gender balance, Paul Arnott has doubled the number of women in the cabinet so that there are now four in a cabinet of ten..

The finesse Paul Arnott has achieved is to make significant changes whilst keeping continuity in some of the critical areas. He has retained three cabinet members and brought back Paul Millar who resigned last September. He has also ensured, by making Cllr Eileen Wragg his deputy with her deep experience (she has been a previous cabinet member), that there will be no loss of any essential corporate memory. (Though Owl thinks there are many memories that can safely be buried. )

He has neatly “shot the Tory fox”; their argument that only they could bring continuity and experience to the council in the pandemic emergency. Though Owl expects to hear them deploy this argument  repeatedly next week, during the election of a Chairman and Vice Chairman, assuming they contest it. 

The new Democracy and Transparency portfolio holder is Cllr Paul Millar who will carry out the new administration’s commitment to overseeing the governance of the council to ensure that all 60 councillors are able to contribute fully. A full review of the constitution, member engagement, and external communications will be undertaken. Cllr Sarah Jackson will be the assistant portfolio holder.

Cllr Jess Bailey is the new Cabinet portfolio holder for Corporate Services and Covid-19 Response & Recovery to ensure a consistent and pro-active approach to the Covid-19 pandemic. Cllr Arnott has said: “At this time of crisis, it is vital that operations across the council continue to be focussed and understood both during and after, so that as the period for recovery begins, the council emerges in the best shape and able to continue to serve East Devon effectively.”

Cllr Marianne Rixson has been appointed as the new Climate Action portfolio holder securing the council’s commitment to Climate Change, and Cllr Arnott said she will ensure that every action and strategy pursued by the council is compliant with its zero-emissions commitment and that climate is considered in the formation of all policy. Her assistant portfolio holder is Cllr Denise Bickley.

On climate change, Cllr Arnott has said: “As we emerge from what has been a national crisis, you need to plan to come out with some positive outcomes and across Devon there is a will that the climate action agenda that was so strong last year remains so.

“That needs to be borne in mind with the kind of homes we are building, the transport policies, the way in which we procure things, the way we preserve our old ecology, our AONBs and the relationship with the potential National Park with Dorset. All of these things are what people have had time to think about over recent months so we need to harness that enthusiasm to address the climate emergency, so there are some opportunities ahead.”

The new cabinet May 2020

(N) – new

Councillor Megan Armstrong   Sustainable Homes & Communities portfolio holder 

Councillor Paul Arnott (N) (Chairman) 

Councillor Jess Bailey   Corporate Services and Covid-19 Response & Recovery 

Councillor Paul Hayward (N)  The Economy and Assets portfolio, assistant portfolio holder Cllr Geoff Pratt (N)

Councillor Geoff Jung   Coast, Country and Environment portfolio, assistant portfolio holder is Cllr Eleanor Rylance. (N)

Councillor Dan Ledger (N)  Strategic Development portfolio

Councillor Paul Millar   Democracy and Transparency portfolio

Councillor Marianne Rixson (N)  Climate Action portfolio holder, assistant portfolio holder Cllr Denise Bickley (N).

Councillor Jack Rowland (N) The Finance portfolio holder, assistant portfolio holder is Cllr John Loudoun(N)

Councillor Eileen Wragg (N) (Vice-Chairman) 

Owl now waits to hear who the new Chairs of some key committees will be and who will represent EDDC on outside bodies such as the AONB and the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GESP)

2 thoughts on “Owls’ first impressions on the “Changing of the Guard” at EDDC HQ Blackdown House . 

  1. Pingback: Paul Arnott, EDDC’s new leader, is making changes to how the Council is run « SEATON & COLYTON matters
  2. I note that Cllr Cathy Gardner is conspicuously absent form the new Cabinet. Given her achievements in the few years she has been an opposition councillor I can only imagine that she decided she didn’t want to be on the Cabinet – we can only hope that she will make her presence felt on one of the key committees (DMC or Standards perhaps).


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