Mid Devon Council leader removes four senior cabinet members after planning row

After the May 2019 elections the Conservatives lost overall control but did not form the administration. The Liberal Democrats are the next largest grouping. They appear to have entered a coalition with Independents and Greens, yet Mid Devon ended up with an Independent Leader.

He was the only one who voted against leaving GESP when the motion to leave was put to Cabinet (passed 7 to 1). He was the one who tabled an amended “fudge” motion when the leave motion was to have been debated at the full Council meeting.

Did this coalition have any Memorandum of Understanding or any formal arrangement? Is this another example of a LINO (leader in name only)? Anyone able to enlighten Owl?

Four Liberal Democrat cabinet members on Mid Devon District Council have left the ruling administration.

Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com

The changes, which will take effect from today, will see the addition of four Conservative members joining the current Independent and Green Party Councillors, while the four Liberal Democrats will leave the Cabinet.

It follows Wednesday night’s full council meeting where the Liberal Democrats put forward a rival amendment to one that the leader of the council had outlined over the future of the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan.

Cllrs Graeme Barnell, Alex White, Luke Taylor, and Simon Clist have left the cabinet, and been replaced by Conservatives Richard Chesterton, Bob Evans, Andrew Moore and Colin Slade.

Announcing the changes, the Leader of Mid Devon District Council, Cllr Bob Deed, said: “Everyone knows that, upon becoming Leader, I had sought participation from across the Council to secure the best set of expertise and experience in cabinet roles.

“While the Conservatives did not feel able to take up this offer from the start, I am pleased that we now have the opportunity to welcome their skills into the Cabinet.

“I firmly believe that working alongside our neighbours and colleagues in the wider area is the right way to achieve the best outcomes for Mid Devon.

“Collaboration across willing partners must be the starting point for effective Local Government and, following Wednesday’s Full Council meeting debating competing proposals from within the Cabinet, the four Liberal Democrats have now stood down.

“I thank them for their contribution during the last 15 months and look forward to continuing to deliver the best outcomes for Mid Devon, as we face the major challenges of potential planning changes, devolution, and post-EU transition, alongside our continued efforts to support our businesses and communities through COVID-19.”

The new cabinet makeup in full is:

  • Cllr Bob Deed (Con) – Leader
  • Cllr Bob Evans (Con) – Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing
  • Cllr Andrew Moore (Con) – Cabinet Member for Finance
  • Cllr Richard Chesterton (Con) – Cabinet Member for Planning & Economic Regeneration
  • Cllr Colin Slade (Con) – Cabinet Member for Environment
  • Cllr Dennis Knowles (Ind) – Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing
  • Cllr Elizabeth Wainwright (Grn) – Cabinet Member for Climate Change
  • Cllr Nikki Woollatt (Ind) – Cabinet Member for the Working Environment and Support Services

The 42-strong council had been run by a coalition of the Independents and the Liberal Democrats, but today’s decision to replace the Liberal Democrats on the council throws that working relationship into doubt.

The council consists currently of 17 Conservatives, 11 Liberal Democrats, nine Independents, and two Green Party councillors.

Three seats are vacant following the deaths of Gerald Luxton and John Daw and the resignation of Irene Hill, with by-elections currently under the Coronavirus Act 2020 not allowed to take place until May 2021.


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