Eight out of 10 English councils at risk of bankruptcy, says study

More than eight out of 10 English councils providing adult social care services are at technical risk of bankruptcy – or face a fresh round of cuts to services – because they cannot meet the extra financial pressures caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research.

Patrick Butler www.theguardian.com 

The analysis estimated that predicted Covid-19-related costs and income losses in 131 out of England’s 151 upper-tier councils this year will exceed both the levels of their available financial reserves and the support so far provided by central government.

The majority of those councils that are in the “red wall” northern England and Midlands parliamentary seats won by the Tories from Labour at the last general election are at risk of going bust because of Covid-19 pressures, the study found.

The Centre for Progressive Policy thinktank study said authorities in the most deprived areas of England already hit hardest by a decade of austerity faced higher pandemic-related costs, and should be prioritised for government support in line with ministerial promises to “level up” so-called “left behind” areas of England.

“Without additional support, deprived local authorities are again going to be hit hardest, leading to bigger service cuts in places where they are needed the most,” concluded the study.

Without a major package of support from the government – councils are currently estimating a net shortfall of at least £6bn for 2020-21 – there is widespread agreement among authorities of all political colours that many will be obliged to draw up painful cuts plans in the next 18 months to avoid bankruptcy.

Although the government has provided £3.2bn of pandemic emergency funds for English local authorities in two tranches in March and April, councils are reporting that the extra money has already run out as pandemic spending on adult social care, homelessness and other areas continues to remain high.

Several councils are already preparing emergency in-year cuts budgets to try to stabilise their finances. Leeds city council said it faced a £200m shortfall, forcing it to freeze vacancies and all non-essential spending. Manchester, Liverpool, Luton and Wiltshire have also signalled that they face serious difficulties.

Steve Reed, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for communities and local government, said councils faced a huge financial black hole. “By law councils will be forced to make devastating in-year cuts that will see frail older people denied care, libraries and leisure centres shut for good and bins left unemptied.”

Last week the Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, warned at prime minister’s questions that councils faced “cutting core services or facing bankruptcy”, adding that “either outcome will harm communities and mean local services can’t reopen”.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said this week that while all councils were hit by extra Covid-19 costs and income losses, councils in more deprived communities where problems of ill-health and poverty were greater were likely to face bigger pressure on services in the long term.

As well as costs in areas such as adult social care local authorities are increasingly concerned that the pandemic is storing up rising costs in other areas as lockdown eases. These include:

  • An anticipated surge in child protection cases as children return to school, and social workers resume home visits and face-to-face meetings with vulnerable families.
  • Fears that council-owned leisure centres that have been closed during the pandemic will no longer be financially viable as long as social distancing measures remain in place, and will have to be permanently shut.
  • Concerns that the cost of home-to-school bus services, particularly in rural areas, will be unsustainable if social distancing rules limit the number of children in each vehicle. Councils have paid transport contracts even while schools are closed to prevent firms going bust.

Local authorities are required by law to balance their budget each year, meaning they are unable to carry over financial deficits into future years. If they are unable to cover costs with resources, they are obliged to issue a section 114 statement, an effective declaration of insolvency.

Only one council – Tory-controlled Northamptonshire – has issued a section 114 notice in the past two decades. In that case spending was frozen and government-appointed commissioners sent in to oversee the authority, which was forced to implement drastic cuts to rebalance its books.

The Centre for Progressive Policy study used official Covid-19 returns filed by English councils to the government detailing extra costs and income losses in March and April and projected forward to the end of the financial year.

Simon Clarke, the minister for local government, said: “We’re giving councils an unprecedented package of support, including £3.2bn non-ringfenced emergency funding, to tackle the pressures they have told us they’re facing.

“Councils’ core spending power rose by over £2.9bn this financial year even before additional emergency funding was announced.

“This is part of a wider package of support from across government for local communities and businesses – totalling over £27bn including grants, business rate relief and for local transport. We are working on a comprehensive plan to ensure councils’ financial sustainability over the financial year ahead.”

Devonians have a phrase for it! Quilling for votes (probably could be used for seeking other favours)

After a two-year campaign in Devon, the word that describes the practice of inebriating potential voters to get their backing at the ballot box has been recognised with a place in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Owl thinks we should re-introduce the term in East Devon to describe the seeking of favours in a more general way.

Quilling: drinks all round if that gets your vote

Charlie Parker www.thetimes.co.uk
Sometimes if you want to get somebody to vote for you, it might be an idea to buy them a drink first.

After a two-year campaign in Devon, the word that describes the practice of inebriating potential voters to get their backing at the ballot box has been recognised with a place in the Oxford English Dictionary.

While “quilling” may have died out, it has been acknowledged as a key part of historical ties between politics and publicans. The practice, where voters consumed drinks paid for by parliamentary candidates while casting their ballots, led to violence and some voters being accused of debauchery before it was eventually banned under electoral law.

The word is thought to refer to the use of a quill-type implement to get alcohol out of a barrel and it was particularly prevalent in Exeter and Devon.

Todd Gray, a historian at Exeter University, applied for the word to be formally recognised after discovering it in numerous documents that he came across during research. He also discovered forgotten Tudor swear words used in the county.

Dr Gray thought that it was most commonly used between the early 1700s and late 1800s. Quilling was defined in 1853 as “a very old term for social meetings of the electors at which there is drink of course”.

In the same year, during one evening of quilling at a pub in Exeter two days before a poll, 60 invited voters had 246 glasses of grog while 25 quarts of beer were given to labourers who could not vote but could show of support. Dr Gray said: “Quilling was a term, but not a practice, confined to Exeter and parts of Devon, and such bribery was common throughout the country.

“We know from reports that it encouraged violence and people living in Exeter were mocked [over] their enthusiasm for partaking of this hospitality. They did so because elections in the city were notoriously violent and contested. In 1761 a husband murdered his wife because they supported different parties. He attributed his actions to the ‘heat’ of liquor.”

Andrew Brice, an English writer and printer from Exeter, crafted the earlier definition of quilling, noting the “running of the quill”. Alexander Jenkins, author of a history of Exeter in 1806, wrote the “pernicious practice of quilling” happened during the city’s elections in 1790.

Jupp fails his first test of political ethics…

Jupp voted with the government ….. 45 MPs, including Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom did not.

A perfect storm causes Boris Johnson’s first parliamentary defeat since the election

By Stephen Bush www.newstatesman.com 

Boris Johnson has suffered his first parliamentary defeat since the general election after 46 Conservative MPs, including his predecessor Theresa May, joined the opposition to vote against plans that would have allowed MPs to vote on and discuss allegations of harassment and workplace misbehaviour made against them in the House of Commons. Thanks to an amendment by Labour’s Chris Bryant, the complaints will instead be tackled via a genuinely independent process. Most embarrassingly for the government, Penny Mordaunt, a sitting minister, rebelled against the plans.

It is a major victory for parliament’s cross-party band of serious anti-bullying campaigners, and a particular triumph for former Commons leader Andrea Leadsom and Labour’s Meg Hillier, two of the highest-profile MPs who can say they spoke out against bullying both when it benefited Remainers to ignore allegations against John Bercow, and when it embarrassed a Brexiteer government to vote against it.

The defeat, both in its scale and its cross-generational spread, will raise further questions about the government’s parliamentary management and intelligence-gathering. In addition to former ministers – most notably May and Leadsom, but the likes of Harriet Baldwin, Mark Harper, David Jones and Tim Loughton also voted against the government – and longtime mavericks such as Bernard Jenkin, 22 MPs from the 2019 intake rebelled, 20 of them for the first time. It’s a general rule that once MPs have rebelled once they are more likely to do so again, and it makes the whips’ lives much, much harder.

Add that to the government’s ongoing and self-created problem with men elected in 2015, and it created the perfect storm.

The reason for the defeat was simple: the government’s plans were terrible. There are a lot of issues in politics that come down to difficult trade-offs or questions of ideology, but on this: the government was just in the wrong. The plans would have placed the victims of workplace bullying in an invidious position – one reason why so many MPs rebelled is they felt, as one put it to me, that it was simply not something they could say to their own families and friends they had backed, while another said they couldn’t have looked their own parliamentary staff “in the face” had they backed the plans. The government ought to have U-turned and accepted Bryant’s amendment, heading off another rebellion.

Now it faces a number of self-inflicted problems: a large group of first-time rebels, many of whom will likely feel freer to vote with their consciences in the future. (As a whip once explained to me, the first time an MP rebels, they feel terribly worried about it. They wake up the next day, they are still alive, the world is still spinning on its axis, and they feel more inclined to vote with their principles in future. This is why one of Gavin Williamson’s underrated skills as chief whip was knowing when to retreat.)  They also have the tricky question of what to do about Mordaunt’s rebellion: firing someone draws attention to the substance of the row, which is a textbook example of politicians seeking to set their own rules, and would add another charismatic and potentially troublesome presence to the backbenches, exactly what this government already has too many of. Not firing her sends a signal that rebellions are consequence-free: exactly the signal that this government does not want to send.

It’s a reminder of one of the truths of this parliament: that the last election produced a landslide defeat for Labour but not a landslide majority for the Conservatives. Independent-minded backbenchers – of whom there are an awful lot – can defeat a government that reads the mood of its own MPs wrong. And when Downing Street puts relatively little effort and energy into gauging the mood of its MPs, defeats like this will happen more often than they should.

Tories gave Robert Jenrick home renovation the go-ahead

The housing secretary had an extension to his £2.6 million Westminster townhouse approved by Conservative councillors despite officials objecting to the scheme three times, The Times can reveal.


Labour will table a humble address to the Queen — an arcane parliamentary procedure that compels ministers to disclose confidential government papers — in the Commons this afternoon.

Billy Kenber, Investigations Reporter www.thetimes.co.uk

Robert Jenrick, 38, and his wife, 47, purchased the five-bedroom house in October 2013, a few weeks before he was selected as the Conservative candidate in Newark.

The couple submitted plans to turn a first-floor roof terrace into an extra room as part of renovations costing £830,000 but the scheme was twice rejected by a planning officer who concluded that it would damage the character and appearance of the building and conservation area.

In August 2014, two months after Mr Jenrick had been elected as a Conservative MP, a third planning application was made. Although the first two had been made in Mr Jenrick’s own name, the latest application was listed in his wife’s name, although she was misgendered as “Mr Michal Berkner”.

The application was for an extension that was slightly taller than the most recently rejected proposal and a planning officer concluded that it should be rejected for the same reasons as the previous applications. On this occasion a Tory councillor who lives on the same private square as the Jenricks, Steve Summers, intervened and requested that it instead be referred to a planning committee to make the decision.

In November 2014, the three Tory members of a planning committee voted to overturn the planning officer’s recommendation and approved the scheme. The minutes from the meeting record only that “the committee considered that the proposal will not harm the character and appearance of the building or the conservation area”.

The fourth member of the committee, the Labour councillor Ruth Bush, voted against the application. Yesterday Ms Bush said that she had been unaware that the property was owned by a Conservative MP and said that it raised concerns about why fellow councillors had approved the scheme.

“I am not at all happy now it’s been drawn to my attention that this proceeded in the way that it did. It should have been more transparent,” she said.

Ms Bush said that it was “strange” and “unusual” for a councillor to refer an application with no public objections lodged against it to a planning committee. “If it hadn’t been called into committee then the officer’s refusal would have stood,” she said.

At the time the application was approved, she told Labour colleagues that she believed that it was a “foolish mistake” because it risked setting a precedent for other applications.

Steve Reed, the shadow housing secretary, said that Mr Jenrick, who faces claims of “cash for favours” over the approval of a Tory donor’s housing scheme at Westferry Printworks, also had “serious questions to answer” over the way in which planning approval was obtained for his own home. Mr Reed said that “it deals yet another hammer blow to the integrity of the planning system”. “Robert Jenrick needs to tell us urgently what contact he had with Tory councillors in Westminster — the public need reassurance that there’s not one rule for Conservative politicians and another for everyone else,” he added.

Paul Church, one of the Tory councillors who approved the scheme, said that he couldn’t remember why he had decided to overturn the planning officer’s decision but he insisted that he had “no idea” that Mr Jenrick owned the home and that he had never met the housing secretary or his wife. “I certainly have never made any planning application decisions on anything other than merit,” he said.

Richard Beddoe, the chairman of the committee, did not respond to a request for comment while the third Tory member, Robert Rigby, referred questions to the council, as did Mr Summers.

A spokesman for Westminster city council said: “Planning committees are entitled to reach their own conclusions by attaching different weight to the various planning criteria, which they regularly do, making it clear their reasons for doing so.” The “proposal was not deemed harmful and had been amended following earlier refusals”.

A spokesman for Mr Jenrick said: “Normal planning process for a standard planning extension was followed by the applicant.”

Mr Jenrick faces a parliamentary vote that could force the government to make all of its communications on the Westferry scheme public today.

Labour will table a humble address to the Queen — an arcane parliamentary procedure that compels ministers to disclose confidential government papers — in the Commons this afternoon.

Steve Reed, the shadow housing secretary, said that Mr Jenrick had nothing to fear from disclosing the documents if he had nothing to hide. Mr Reed told Sky News: “What we are asking the government to do is to simply come clean . . . it has brought into question the integrity of the whole planning system.”

Mr Jenrick continues to enjoy support from cabinet colleagues. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Alok Sharma, the business secretary, insisted that the housing secretary had acted with “all propriety” in his dealings with Mr Desmond and that his explanation was “the end of the matter”.

• Richard Desmond, the Tory donor embroiled in the “cash-for-favours” scandal, is set to bid for the National Lottery contract (Billy Kenber writes). The former media tycoon is expected to take part when the Gambling Commission launches the tender process in August. Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, approved Mr Desmond’s plans to build 1,500 apartments a day before the imposition of a £40 million community charge.

The former media tycoon has admitted lobbying Mr Jenrick at a fundraising dinner and he donated £12,000 to the Conservatives a fortnight after the scheme was approved. Jo Stevens, Labour’s shadow culture secretary, said that there were “important questions about his suitability for the role”. Labour will today use an opposition day debate to try to force the government to release all documents relating to Mr Jenrick’s approval of the Westferry Printworks development.

Where is Ms Hernandez?

Black Lives Matter …
Devon and Cornwall police sergeant suspended for an inappropriate WhatsApp message about George Floyd …
Death of a black man in custody in Torquay …

Comments from our Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez – NOTHING!

Whitehall not sharing Covid-19 data on local outbreaks, say councils

“More than a month after being promised full details of who has caught the disease in their areas, local health chiefs are still desperately lobbying the government’s testing chief, Lady Harding, to break the deadlock and share the data.”

Whitehall still running things centrally (and failing) – Owl

Juliette Garside www.theguardian.com

Local outbreaks of Covid-19 could grow undetected because the government is failing to share crucial testing data, council leaders and scientists have warned.

More than a month after being promised full details of who has caught the disease in their areas, local health chiefs are still desperately lobbying the government’s testing chief, Lady Harding, to break the deadlock and share the data.

The situation was described by one director of public health as a “shambles”, while a scientist on the government’s own advisory committee said it was “astonishing” that public health teams are unable to access the information.

The prime minister said on Friday the country was moving from “a huge one-size-fits-all national lockdown programme to one in which we’re able to do more localised responses”, and ministers have told councils and their public health directors to take the lead.

They will be responsible for monitoring the spread of Covid-19 in local areas and deciding when to close schools, offices, care homes and if necessary impose lockdowns on whole towns. As they race to produce outbreak management plans by the end of June, public health directors warn they lack crucial data flowing from Whitehall.

“It can’t be stressed enough how important this data is to us,” said Ian Hudspeth, the Conservative leader of Oxfordshire county council, who speaks on health matters for the Local Government Association. “We’ve been pressing for this since the test-and-trace system was announced.”

Councils are asking for real-time information about who has tested positive, down to the names and contact details of individuals, and failing that by street, postcode, or catchment area of 1,500 people. However, most are only receiving a daily feed of aggregate community test results for the entire upper tier local authority.

This could hinder the ability to spot outbreaks at the earliest opportunity, according to Chris Jewell, an epidemiologist at Lancaster University and a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) subgroup on modelling.

“We have to wait for [outbreaks] to emerge through the noise at a much larger spatial scale,” he said. In practical terms, that means waiting for more people to become infected and, he said, “delays are everything in dealing with outbreaks”.

Hudspeth said he had been “lobbying hard” for the information since the beginning of April when the health secretary, Matt Hancock, launched the national coronavirus testing programme.

“If someone has gone into a care home we need to contact them as soon as possible before they go into other areas and spread the virus,” he said. “We need to know on the day so that we can clamp down and prevent the spread.”

Jewell said he found it “astonishing” that local public health officials are unable to get the postcodes of people who have been infected. “I don’t quite understand what the problem is,” he said.

The number of new cases in the UK is falling, but remains just under the 1,000-a-day mark – and health directors are on the alert for local outbreaks of the kind seen in Beijing and in Germany. Last week, three meat-processing plants were shut down in England and Wales after more 100 people tested positive.

“We really do need the data shared,” said Sakthi Karunanithi at Lancashire county council. “Without it we don’t know whether we have localised outbreaks, for example in a single care home, or generalised transmission in the community. This will help us intervene early before the virus spreads wider.”

Greg Fell, who heads public health in Sheffield, told a parliamentary committee last week: “This is not nice-to-know data, this is necessary for the public health response in an emergency.”

Another long-standing director of public health, who asked to be anonymous, said the whole process was a “complete shambles”.

The warning about data comes after directors said they also remained unclear about whether local authorities will have the power to instigate local lockdowns or whether these decisions will be taken at a national level.

The missing information is largely from tests carried out in the national network of drive-in centres coordinated by management consultants at the accounting firm Deloitte, and from postal tests managed by the Northern Ireland laboratory Randox. The data is held by central government, but has not yet flowed through to councils and GPs. By contrast, GPs automatically get results from tests carried out in hospitals using NHS labs.

It is understood civil servants in the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), where the test-and-trace effort is being overseen by the Conservative peer Dido Harding, are concerned that sharing details about individuals with councils may fall foul of data protection laws. “Public Health England have the data but they haven’t got the protocols in place to make sure there is that ability to share,” said Hudspeth.

Another source suggested that there had been issues getting de-anonymised data back out of a highly secure IT system intended to protect personal information.

The picture has been complicated by the creation of a new government agency, the Joint Biosecurity Centre. Giving evidence to MPs last week, its chief executive, Clare Gardiner, said her team would be responsible for pushing data out to councils. However, she said the agency was not expected to be fully operational until the end of the summer.

A DHSC spokesperson said: “Local outbreaks will continue to be managed by a specialist team from the local authority or PHE, and we have provided £300m to local authorities to further develop local outbreak control plans.”

“Testing data is being made available through local dashboards and we will continue to expand this to provide more data for local areas. The new test-and-trace service has an important role in limiting the spread of the virus nationally, and already thousands of those who have tested positive have been contacted and their close contacts traced.”

Town councillors object to detailed plans for 317 new homes in Exmouth

Exmouth town councillors have objected to detailed plans for 317 homes at Goodmores Farm which also include land for a new primary school and commercial use.

East Devon Reporter eastdevonnews.co.uk 
Members backed Marley Road residents over their concern at their street being used to access part of the mooted development.They also lamented just five per cent of the proposed dwellings being ‘affordable’ and questioned the need for a brand-new school.Blueprints for the site, off Hulham Road and Dinan Way, already have outline planning permission.

Eagle Investments Ltd is now seeking the go-ahead for a reserved matters application.

This details include layout, scale, appearance and landscaping for 317 residential units, associated roads, open space, and an attenuation basin for water run-off. Sixteen of the homes would be affordable.

Five-and-a-half acres of the site can be utilised for mixed-use employment and commercial purposes and the provision of land for a primary school.

Exmouth Town Council’s planning committee voted to oppose the latest application at a meeting last night (Monday).

Marley Road resident Bob Horlock spoke on behalf of the 12 househlds in the street and raised concern that it would be used for access to a cul-de-sac of nine homes on the new development.

Mr Horlock said residents had been told at a public consultation event in 2014 that there would be no access onto the site from Marley Road.

He added that the ‘narrow, unclassified country lane’ is popular with cyclists and walkers – and a significant increase in traffic would raise the risk of an accident.

District councillor Paul Millar, who represents the Halsdon ward, bemoaned the low number of ‘affordable’ homes and told the committee: “This is a daft scheme which does nothing to relieve the number of people on the housing waiting list in Exmouth.”

An aerial view of the land earmarked for development.

An aerial view of the land earmarked for development.

He also questioned why a brand-new primary school was proposed when there was ‘ample space’ for existing ones in the town to expand.

Councillor Fred Caygill said the development had been ‘on the cards for over 20 years’ but backed Marley Road residents, who he said were ‘rightly concerned’.

He added: “Sixteen affordable houses is a bit hard to swallow.

“I would think that, before anybody goes down the road of building a new school, they revisit the need and requirement. More importantly, medical facilities are needed in this part of the town.

“If we are going to put more houses and more people into Exmouth, we need to look at something like medical facilities rather than a school, if it’s not needed.”

Cllr Mike Rosser said the plans were ‘cramming too many houses’ on the site and that gardens were ‘minute’.

He also lamented there being ‘no recognition’ of climate change and ‘no attempt to encourage’ renewable energy.

Cllr Tim Dumper said the application should be linked to safety concerns on Dinan Way, adding: “There is going to be a distinct need for a crossing on that road. There needs to be provision for a crossing and there needs to be a way to finance that.”

He added that he continued to support the development in principle – ‘as long as the details are got right’.

Councillors voted to object to the scheme.

Their concerns included the access from Marley Road, Dinan Way safety issues and the amount of affordable housing.

They also sought reassurance over the agreement for a new primary school and a construction management plan.

East Devon District Council will decide the fate of the application.


Finale of the long running “Changing of the Guard” at East Devon District Council Today, 6.00pm

(Or how the Conservatives with only one third of the Council seats tried to retain power for ever and ever. A comic tragedy in five parts.)

Extraordinary Virtual meeting of Council, Council – Wednesday, 24th June, 2020 6.00 pm

You can watch live or catch up on EDDC’s Youtube channel.

This comic tragedy has played out to an international audience (Owl has viewers across the globe) in five Acts over the past four weeks, why? 

In May 2019 the Conservatives, for the first time since the Council was formed in 1974, lost their majority. Cllr. Ben Ingham, leader of the opposition (who resigned from the Conservative Party around 15 years ago but campaigned and was elected as an Independent) took control of the council by forming an informal partnership/coalition/compact/arrangement with the Conservative councillors giving them key committee positions. In May this year after a series of defections, this arrangement broke down and a new Majority Group was formed.

The opportunity for a smooth transition was dashed when Conservative Cllr and Council Chairman Stuart Hughes took the opportunity provided by a change in legislation by the government to take the option of prematurely cancelling the Annual Council Meeting. This marks the end of one civic year and the beginning of the next. 

His, and his close Conservative colleagues’, reasoning became clear during the Act I debates: despite the democratic shift in power they didn’t want to see change. As one councillor put it “It is vital that we have stable leadership and in Cllr Hughes we have someone with the experience and the link with County Hall. To replace him would jeopardise the recovery process and demean the work he has done. To change in the middle of the crisis could be a monumental mistake. This is not the time to hold an EGM. 

During all this Cllr. Ben Ingham resigns (sacks) his Cabinet and “falls on his sword.” The Council is rudderless. 

This indefensible decision of Cllr. Stuart Hughes created chaos since the only way to make the inevitable change was through “Extraordinary General Meetings” (EGMs) but these constitutionally are restricted to a single motion.

Hence the five acts in this comic tragedy which will have been appreciated, no doubt, by another influential and “experienced” Conservative, sent packing by the electorate in May 2019: Cllr. Paul Diviani, Chairman of EDDC Council 2007 – 2009 and Leader from 2011 – 2018 with almost 10 years experience in stage entertainment including Howard & Wyndham’s Pantomimes. 

Act I – The prelude or warm up act, where a meeting had to be held to decide to have a meeting to vote for a new Leader. (Some people don’t seem to get “democracy”. If you have a minority of the vote you are going to lose on a matter of confidence such as this)

Refreshments served as Cllr Stuart Hughes resigns as Council Chairman following this defeat.

Act II – where the meeting to elect a new Leader crashed when Conservative Cllr. Tom Wright was so taken aback by the way the votes were being called (he shouldn’t have been) swore on open mic causing You Tube to pull the plug with only a few votes left to be cast. 

Interlude overnight

Act III – the reconvened meeting the following morning where Cllr Paul Arnott was elected Leader. Paul Arnott appointed Cllr Eileen Wragg as Deputy Leader and a Cabinet (these are all Leader appointments). At this point we have a new administration with a new purpose. 

Change of Costume – Cllr. Ben Ingham who campaigned and was elected as an Independent claimed he had  “No Choice” but rejoin the Tories after 15 years.

Act IV – where Cllr Cathy Gardner and Cllr Val Ranger were elected Council Chairman and Vice Chairman. The new Civic leaders and upholders of the constitution. This was an uncontested election. A considerable number of Conservatives and Cllr Ben Ingham absent themselves from this virtual meeting.

Now we come to the Finale which should be a matter of ratification of the governance arrangements and committee appointments for the remainder of the civic year (until the next Annual Meeting May 2021).

Act V – where the council will consider Governance Arrangements and committee appointments for the remainder of the Civic Year (2020/21). The important aspect of this meeting is the procedural changes proposed in Part A to cut the Gordian Knot and resolve all the outstanding issues in the one meeting.

Owl has already commented on the shift in power balance these key appointments represents.


  1. Approves the amended Constitution to determine the committee structure, their size and terms of reference and the scheme of delegations.


  1. Confirms the Conservative Group as the formal opposition.


  1. Approves the allocation to different political groups of seats on the overview, regulatory and other committees (see agenda papers)
  2. Approves the allocation of seats on individual overview, scrutiny, regulatory and other committees as set out in Appendix 1 of agenda papers. 


  1. Agrees the Membership of the Standards Committee and Housing Review Board (as detailed in Part D of this report) and approves an extension of the appointment of the Independent Person for a further year. 


  1. Approves the appointments of Councillors to committees as set out in the table in Appendix 2.


  1. Approves the appointments of the Chairs and Vice-Chairs of the committees as set out in Appendix 3


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