Is this an example of “taking back control”?
Is the writing on the wall for Tories in Plymouth? – Owl
Plymouth’s Tory MPs have called on Labour to take over the city council amid chaos following Richard Bingley’s resignation. Johnny Mercer and Sir Gary Streeter said Labour supremo Tudor Evans should now form an administration until the local elections in May.
William Telford www.plymouthherald.co.uk
In a joint statement the Tory stalwarts said: “We have long wished for local politics to be a little more stable for the people of Plymouth. Labour is now the largest party. We call on Tudor Evans to accept the responsibility that comes with that democratic mandate and form an interim council until the May elections to ensure that stability and continuity is preserved.”
Cllr Bingley resigned almost a year to the day he took charge, following criticism after he signalled the start of a £12.7m Armada Way upgrade which involved wholesale tree felling. A public outcry ensued and a legal challenge from the action group Straw (Save the Trees of Armada Way) prevented further lumberjacking with court battles imminent.
Mr Mercer and Mr Streeter, MPs for Moor View and South West Devon respectively, thanked Cllr Bingley for his hard work and integrity. In their joint statement they said: “We would like to thank Richard for all of his tireless work to promote Plymouth over the last year. Being in politics locally is tough, and he has remained true to his commitments to Plymouth, and to the local community.”
Cllr Bingley is stepping down as leader of the authority and Conservative Group from Monday, March 27, the date of the next full council meeting. He had come under mounting criticism after signing an executive decision to press ahead with the Armada Way redevelopment, which resulted in 110 trees being chopped down at night. Cllr Bingley insisted this was the right thing to do and that it would result in a “wonderful tree-lined zone whereby businesses and cafes and people feel safe”.
Cllr Bingley took over from Cllr Nick Kelly, who then left the Conservative group, in March 2022. During his year in charge Cllr Bingley had to deal with the resignation of several other high-profile Tory councillors and ended up leading a minority administration.
He said that in his year in charge his team took 165 Executive Decisions which, he said, “emphasised our belief in economic development, job creation and being compassionate community councillors.” He said he was proud of several achievements including finishing the Forder Valley transport scheme and establishing the Plymouth and South Devon Freeport.
Plymouth City Council’s Labour Group leader Tudor Evans has called Cllr Bingley’s resignation “yet another chapter in the ongoing chaos, backstabbing and infighting” among the Conservative group and the Independent Alliance. He said Labour would publish an “exciting vision” for greening the city centre, which the party would “look forward to getting started on should we take control of the council in May.”