Venue: Virtual Meeting
Contact: Sally Gabriel Member Services Manager
Link: audio recording
To receive any apologies for absence.
Apologies were received from Cllr Mrs S Griggs and Cllr S Penny.
To note the protocol for remote meetings.
The protocol for remote meetings was noted.
Public Question Time (00:08:00)
To receive any questions relating to items on the agenda from members of the public and replies thereto.
The following members of the public all asked questions in relation to item 6 on the agenda, ‘Changes in the Cabinet’:
Cllr David Garcia stated that he was speaking as an individual. Many of us involved in local governmenet who are accustomed to making collective decisions are appalled at how one member cannot only remove councillors from a decision making group i.e. the Cabinet, but also change the direction the majority of councillors may wish to go.
You were elected Leader of the Council with the support of your group, the Independents, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party. Only the Conservative group opposed you and yet you decided to turn your back on all of them by sacking the 4 Lib Dems and replacing them with the 4 Conservative members who originally opposed you and also not promoting anyone to Cabinet from your own group. So my questions are to you:
How will you new Cabinet members be of greater benefit to the Council than the 4 you sacked?
Are your actions to be seen as a move on your part to re-join the Conservative party or their group on the MDDC?
Honorary Alderman David Nation addressed his question to the Leader:
Does he realise the damage being done to the standing of the council by his dictatorial behaviour expressed in the changes to the Cabinet which prompted this special meeting? Does he see the similarity with the abuse of power manifested by the previous council, which he then condemned? Is he aware of the disapproval and suspicion the pubic feel when they know that this council in 18 months has made no progress in reforming governance and it has taken two FOI requests, one of which is still outstanding, to discover what has been going on in that regard?
Steve Keable stated that his questions related to
‘Changes in the Cabinet’ and were in 3
Nigel Richardson asked…..at this particularly challenging time for all of us, why does the Council Leader, Bob Deed, consider that now is the time for confrontation rather than cooperation?
David Wulff stated ……my first question is to Cllr Evans, Leader of the Conservative Group:
At the Annual Meeting of the Council on 22nd May 2019, not only did you and the rest of the Conservative Group vote unanimously against the appointment of Cllr Deed as Leader of the Council, but you also refused the offer of places in his ... view the full minutes text for item 68.
Declarations of Interest under the Code of Conduct (00:21:00)
Councillors are reminded of the requirement to declare any interest, including the type of interest, and the reason for that interest, either at this stage of the meeting or as soon as they become aware of that interest.
There were no interests declared under this item.
Chairman's Announcements (00:22:00)
To receive any announcements which the Chairman of the Council may wish to make.
The Chairman wished to make it clear that despite being contacted by other members of the Council, he himself as Chairman of the Council had decided to call an Extraordinary Meeting under Procedure Rule 13.2 (b). He hoped that by doing this it would bring some harmony to the ensuing debate.
Changes in the Cabinet (00:23:00)
To consider and discuss the recent changes in the Cabinet, such consideration and discussion to include:
(a) receiving statements from the previous Cabinet members and a report from the Leader;
(b) asking questions arising from such statements and report;
(c) debating the changes and the statements, report and answers received; and
(d) considering and voting on any motions moved and seconded during the course of
The Chairman invited the Leader of the Council to provide a report regarding recent changes to the Cabinet.
The Leader stated that:
· The District Council had come a long way since he was first elected to it in 2007. It had gone from a Committee to a Cabinet system of governance.
· A number of exciting projects had begun under the previous administration prior to the 2019 election and were on-going. Many of these required continued funding and the co-operation of partner agencies was key to this. In bringing an amendment to the decision regarding GESP he had wanted to send out a signal that Mid Devon District Council was willing to work with other local authorities for the good of all residents of Mid Devon. He had felt that this was critical to the delivery of future strategic projects within the district and that the stance taken by the Liberal Democrat Cabinet Members regarding GESP had been untenable.
· On 14th August he had met with the Chief Executive and the Leader of the Conservative Group to understand the views of the Conservative group.
· Following the vote at full Council on 26 August he had decided to replace the Liberal Democrat Cabinet Members with experienced Members from the Conservative Group. He considered that this change had in no way diminished the expertise of the Cabinet and was the best result for the Council.
· Under the present constitutional arrangements the Leader had the power to establish and change his Cabinet as he or she saw fit. There was a Governance Working Group in operation looking at alternative systems of governance and the public would be consulted on this. A recommendation would be brought before Council in Spring 2021.
· His actions had solely been carried out with the best interests of Mid Devon residents in mind.
In response to the questions asked by the Members of the public the Leader provided the following answers given in the order in which the questions had been asked:
· Certain Members of the Conservative Group had previously served on the Cabinet and as a result of their considerable expertise he had had no hesitation in appointing them to the Cabinet.
· He reiterated the point that the Leader had full control over who was in his or her Cabinet.
· It was not his intention to re-join the Conservative party having been asked to leave it some years ago and then standing as an Independent candidate which he would continue to do.
· He recognised that everybody had their own view but it had not been tenable to continue to work with the previous Liberal Democrat Members of the Cabinet.
· Progress was being made with the Governance Working Group and the public would be consulted and listened to.
· He was not seeking to be confrontational during this challenging time but instead wanted the Council to be seen as being able to work collaboratively with other local authorities.
· He stated that he did not have a vested interested in keeping ... view the full minutes text for item 71.
The Chairman has agreed to include this item on the agenda under rule 3.2 of the Council Procedure Rules, because he considers it expedient for the efficient discharge of the Council’s business. The revised allocation is necessary following the departure of 2 members from the Independent Group. Until the Council agrees a revised allocation, those 2 members are not able to take any allocated seats at committee and other meetings.
The Council had before it a revised allocation * of seats reflecting the current membership of the Council.
This had been necessary as a result of Cllr D F Pugsley and Cllr A Wilce leaving the Independent Group and becoming unaffiliated and independent Members in their own individual right. The revised allocation showed that there were 5 remaining Committee seats after a percentage had been applied to the rest of the Council.
Council was informed of the following:
· Cllr A Wilce would take a seat on the Scrutiny Committee, Audit Committee, Licensing Committee and Regulatory Committee.
· Cllr D F Pugsley would take a seat on the Economy PDG.
A brief discussion took place regarding the allocation of seats to ‘Other Bodies’. There appeared to be some confusion as to the seats allocated to the Green Party in relation to the Planning Working Group and the Planning Policy Advisory Group.
The Chairman MOVED that: The Tables be approved with regard to the allocation of seats on ‘Committees’ and that the allocation of seats on ‘Other Bodies’ be brought back to the next meeting of Council for further consideration.
Upon a vote being taken, the MOTION (as amended) was declared to have been CARRIED.
Note: * Allocation of seats previously circulated, copy attached to the minutes.