The leader of Plymouth City Council will face a vote of no confidence in just over a week after Labour claimed he has “lost all authority.”
Cllr Nick Kelly (Conservative, Compton) has been leader of the council since the Conservative group won the largest number of seats in the May 2021 elections.
However, following several suspensions and resignations, Tories now have the same number of councillors as the Labour group.
Cllr Kelly failed to get his annual budget – which included a 1.74 per cent council tax increase – approved at the end of February after Labour brought an amendment to freeze council tax for the next financial year – except for the one per cent ring-fenced for adult social care.
The amendment was passed and Labour are now calling for a vote of no confidence which will take place at the final full council meeting of the financial year on Monday 21 March.
Plymouth Labour leader Cllr Tudor Evans OBE (Ham) said: “This was a complete failure on Cllr Kelly’s part.
“Not to get your own budget through is unprecedented and if Cllr Kelly had anything about him at all he would have resigned as leader there and then.
“As it is, he has lost all authority and we cannot allow the city to continue to be led by someone who does not have the confidence of the majority of the council.”
Tudor Evans (Labour Leader, Plymouth)
The latest development follows controversy surrounding several members of the Conservative group.
In March last year Cllr Mark Deacon (Conservative, Southway) was temporarily suspended by the party after claims he had mocked women’s safety concerns in the wake of the death of Sarah Everard.
Cllr Kelly was also suspended after being accused of “victim-blaming” in comments he made following the death of Plymouth teenager Bobbi-Anne McLeod.
The Labour groups says it has not had a reply to a letter they sent to Cllr Kelly about the comments he made.
Plymouth Conservatives also faced questions after it emerged emerged that two councillors, elected as Tories last year, are now living in Gloucestershire.
Plymouth City Council was eventually left with no party holding overall control when Cllr Dave Downie (Independent, Budshead) was suspended from the Conservative Party.
However, Cllr Downie remains cabinet member for education, skills and children and young people, enabling him to continue to receive a special responsibility allowance of £22,000 a year.
“It really is time for Cllr Kelly to go,” said Cllr Evans.
“There have been repeated suspensions, resignations and expulsions under Cllr Kelly’s tenure and infighting on a colossal scale.
“It certainly does not serve the residents of Plymouth to have a weak leader who is manifestly incapable of holding his own group together, let alone lead the city.”
As both Labour and the Conservatives have the same number of seats, the result of the no confidence vote is likely to depend on how the 11 independents on the council vote.