“Senior role in East Devon’s ruling cabinet has been axed”

So, the “transformation” role in Ben Ingham’s TiggerTory cabinet has been abolished by said leader.

How convenient – no more pesky questions about the Leader’s pre-election promise to move from a Cabinet system to a committee system, more representative of the diverse groups that now exist.

Councillor Millar, understandably, believed “transformation” meant changes to the way officers AND councillors would work. Instead it seems Leader Ingham sees “transformation” as applying to more commercialisation of council services and more revenue-boosting asset-sweating or selling. In other words, a continuation of the previous Tory policies – local government as business rather than public service.

More BOGOF (buy one, get one free) than transformation!

“… No reason for the decision of the leader of the council to not replace the portfolio holder position is stated in the papers ahead of the meeting. …

Instead, the cabinet collectively will take on responsibility for delivery of the Council Plan and the associated strategies of Fit for Purpose, Careful Choices and Commercialisation of Services.

The report says that Cllr Jess Bailey, Corporate Services Portfolio holder, will take on responsibility for Digital by Design and Systems Thinking, while Cllr Geoff Pook, Asset Management Portfolio holder, will now be responsible for Commercialisation of Assets rather than Revenue Generation.

… Next Wednesday’s meeting will also see changes made to committee membership as a result of the political balance of the council changes following Cllr Millar’s resignation from the Independent Group.

The council now consists of 19 members in the Independent Group, 19 Conservatives, 11 from the East Devon Alliance, eight Liberal Democrats, two Green Party members, and one Independent, Cllr Millar.

Sitting as an Independent, he is entitled to two seats across all the committees, and the full council is recommended to approve a proposal that would see the ruling Independent Group lose a seat on both the Overview Committee and the Licensing and Enforcement Committee.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/senior-role-east-devons-ruling-3442021

“East Devon leader responds after call for him to resign”

Might more councillors who rushed into “The Independent Group” which Ben Ingham was so very keen to lead, be regretting their choice? If so, interesting times. As Owl has already pointed out, if all other non-Tory and non-TIG councillors came together (Independent, East Devon Alliance, Green and Lub Dem) they would be the majority group …

“East Devon leader Ben Ingham said he will not be ‘stepping aside’ after a former cabinet member called for him to resign.

Writing for this title, Councillor Paul Millar said Cllr Ingham has ‘failed to deliver a workable policy let alone the change people were asking for’.

In response, Cllr Ingham said he will not be stepping down ‘just yet’ and the ruling Independent Group are focused on delivering on its policies ‘including a balanced budget for next year’.

Cllr Millar said: “I call on Ben to do the right thing and step aside to allow someone more in touch with the reality of people’s lives to lead the council.”

In response, Cllr Ingham said: “I won’t be stepping aside just yet.

“There is so much to do and the Independent Group is eager to put our priorities into action.

“This includes preparing a balanced budget for next year.”

https://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/ben-ingham-response-to-resignation-call-1-6311778

Exmouth resident supports young sacked/resigned councillor

From Exmouth Journal

“Dear Sir,

I was shocked at the so called “sacking” of Paul Millar. Here we have a young man interested in getting involved in local politics who should be supported not pilloried for his lack of experience.

In taking on the leadership of a team of Independents perhaps Ben Ingham an experienced Councillor and ex party member has not quite grasped that he is now the manager of individuals not a party gang that he can whip into order .

Leadership in this scenario requires nurturing your team. Working out their strengths and weaknesses and if you see people struggling, stepping in with support and encouragement.

Above all , as presented in the reports that I have read so far, he should not be taking the side of paid officials who are there to advise and deliver what the Councillors decide.

I get the impression that the current Senior Management team in EDDC that he lauds is so used to calling all the shots for years , that a new young broom presenting what they perceive as a challenge to the existing power structure needs to be flattened and crushed from the outset.

Anybody who has changed jobs and become a new boss will know that in the early stages of a new job, it’s always a battle of wills. You will be resented by the old guard who will look for ways to trip you up. That’s where a mentor would come in useful. Charm, persuasion and proving that you have a vision and work hard yourself will usually win through.

So far the new Independent group have badly misread why they were voted in.

People in Exmouth voted for change not continuity. What that means is real transparency, not lip service, being open to feedback and above all listening. The value of listening cannot be emphasised enough. Listen and act. If you find you cannot deliver what people are asking for, tell them why you can’t but offer what else you can do for them.

That’s what we voted for. We now need to see some evidence that the election promises made are not just empty words which the Town sadly has become all too used to from previous administrations.”

EDDC: political power … could be radically rejigged …

Currently:

Conservatives: 19
Green Party: 2
Independent Group: 19
Independent 1
Independent East Devon Alliance: 11
Liberal Democrats: 8

IF East Devon Alliance, Independent, Green and Lib Dems
formed a coalition they would number 22.

It would then be:
Conservatives 19
The Independent Group 19
Coalition Group 22

The coalition would be the biggest group ……….. and could, if they so wished, bring in a committee system …….

Who decided to sack “Independent Group” councillor?

LATE CORRECTION: Greens are independent of the Independent Group but Ollie David accepted the role as Lead Member for Environmental Health and the other Green councillor accepted the role of Lead Member for Health and Wellbeing.

How does a group of Independent Councillors sack an independent councillor?

We know how parties and alliances do or might sack a member councillor – they would have a committee meeting of elected members, make a decision and communicate it to other members and the councillor concerned.

But the “Independent Group” appears to have simply decided it was a group and elected itself a leader in the first week of the new council. As it then had the most seats, its Leader got to be Leader of the new council. Green Party councillors also joined the Independent Group (can you be even be Independent and Green Party?). It did not follow up with a committee or internal executive as far as we know, the Leader simply chose Cabinet and other roles for councillors – some of whom were Tories (eg Head of Development Management Committee) and one of whom was an East Devon Alliance member (Dan Ledger – Procurement).

So, did the Leader unilaterally decide to sack Councillor Paul Millar from the Independent Group, or were all of its members involved in the decision or just a small number of them? If so, were Tory councillors and Green councillors also involved in the decision (it seems unlikely the EDA councillor would have been consulted)?

Who initiated the call for the sacking? Were officers involved and, if so, how and why? Will the Monitoring be involved? Was the Monitoring Officer involved? Was the inexperienced, young councillor offered advice or extra training in his new role?

So many questions!

Former “Independent Group” councillor expands on reasons for resignation

Just one thing missing from Councillor Ingham’s justification below – why did he choose a brand new councillor to be an important portfolio holder?

Answer: because he utterly refused to co-operate with other independent councillors – many of them experienced – because they belonged to the group he formerly led (East Devon Alliance), preferring to appoint Conservative councillors or ex-councillors (he had also been a Conservative!) from the “ancien regime”, which led this blog to call the group “TiggerTories”.

As you sow, so shall you reap.

“East Devon District Council is in political deadlock after the dramatic resignation of one of the ruling independent group’s councillors.

Former Independent Group councillor Paul Millar, who represents Exmouth Halsdon, resigned today, accusing the district council leadership team of keeping him in the dark on important policy issues.

The council is now deadlocked with 19 Independent councillors and 19 Conservative councillors.

Despite this the council’s leader, councillor Ben Ingham, has said that, ‘it is business as usual for East Devon’.

Nub News contacted Paul Millar and asked him to explain his reasons for resigning, he said: “My experience was that in my four months in the Cabinet I wasn’t asked what I thought about anything, I wasn’t briefed, given options with which to make informed decisions, and attempts to have any influence over my portfolio proved to be impossible.

“In my first week, an email was sent out to colleagues “on my behalf” without me having the opportunity to sign it off or influence its contents. This really upset me because it suggested to colleagues I had formed a particular view on a subject that I hadn’t.

“Being new to local government, I would have appreciated more support and, ultimately, I came to the sad conclusion that some in the Senior Management Team simply don’t trust Councillors to make the decisions the people elected us to make.

He added: “I do respect that others may view things in a different way, but I guess I just wanted to be honest and I’ve been humbled by the number of colleagues across parties who’ve agreed with my sentiments.”

Councillor Ben Ingham, leader of East Devon District Council, has responded to councillor Millar’s resignation stating, ‘it is business as usual for East Devon. He said: “It is very unfortunate when individuals resort to personal and unfounded comments. Such attacks do not help us advance understanding of the work carried out by East Devon District Council’s officers and councillors and their respective roles and responsibilities as detailed in the Council’s Constitution. Rather, they confuse, contribute to rumours and create more harm.

“However, I am confident that the council offered councillor Millar a high level of support and assistance to help him try to adjust to the demands of being a portfolio holder, and I thank him for his contribution. On behalf of the council I am very grateful for the work that councillor Millar has carried out since his election and appointment to the Cabinet and wish him well for the future. Looking forwards, though, it is business as usual for East Devon.”

Nub News was contacted by East Devon councillor and chairman of the East Devon Conservative Association, Bruce de Saram, he had this to say: “Clearly Paul Millar doesn’t yet fully grasp the difference between strategic and operational roles on a council, which I find puzzling, given his previous role as an advisor to a Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson; you might have thought he would understand something of the democratic process and the slow pace of it at times.

“There is huge democratic input and the officers at EDDC do an excellent job on behalf of all residents of East Devon in what is a very challenging work environment. It is hugely unfair and inappropriate to criticise them when they have no right of reply; councillor Millar needs to understand that ‘changing the world’ takes more than three months.”

However in conclusion Councillor de Saram sincerely wished Councillor Millar well and said he looks forward to seeing him at future meetings as a “genuine independent”.

https://exmouth.nub.news/n/district-council-deadlocked-after-dramatic-resignation

“Exmouth councillor’s resignation from ‘sinking ship’ Independent group ‘inevitable’ says Conservative chairman”

Councillor Millar was councillor for “transformation” and was investigating the change to the committee system that Independent Group Leader Boris (whoops, sorry Ben) Ingham had been all in favour of – until he became council leader.

“Councillor Bruce de Saram said ‘others are likely to follow’ after Cllr Paul Miilar sensationally resigned from the Independent group, effectively cancelling out its majority at district council.

In an email seen by the Journal, Cllr Millar criticised senior management at East Devon District Council (EDDC) for not consulting him on policy decisions.

Cllr De Saram said that criticism of senior management is ‘hugely unfair and inappropriate’ when they have no right of reply.

When approached by the Journal, Cllr Millar said his comments were based on his own personal experience of the few months he was on the district council cabinet.

Cllr De Saram said: “Councillor Paul Millar is the first senior member of the administration to jump ship before it sinks, whilst blaming others for his decision with others likely to follow.

“Clearly Paul Millar doesn’t yet fully grasp the difference between strategic and operational roles on a council, which I find puzzling, given his previous role as an advisor to a Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson.

“You might have thought he would understand something of the democratic process and the slow pace of it at times.

“There is huge democratic input and the officers at EDDC do an excellent job on behalf of all residents of East Devon in what is a very challenging work environment.

“Councillor Millar needs to understand that ‘changing the world’ takes more than three months.”

Cllr De Saram went on to say he looks forward to seeing Cllr Millar at future meetings as a ‘genuine independent’.

Cllr Millar’s resignation now means the council is deadlocked at 19 Independents and Conservative members apiece.

The Conservative members are set to hold a meeting next week where they will discuss the party’s next move.

Cllr Andrew Moulding, leader of the Conservatives at EDDC, said: “It is too early to say what we will do.

“This could be the start of more people moving away from the Independent group.”

https://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/east-devon-conservatives-react-as-councillor-quits-independent-group-1-6262323