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Council leader survives second critical debate

A second call for a vote of no confidence in the leader of West Sussex County Council has come to nothing.


Cllr Louise Goldsmith, pictured below, said she was ‘devastated’ after the last such call on June 7 – this time she cracked a joke.


To laughter from fellow Conservatives, Mrs Goldsmith suggested such calls should be made a regular item on the agenda to save people writing them or debating them.


The call was part of a notice of motion from Labour’s Cllr Michael Jones about the recent critical report into the county’s fire and rescue service. The notice said it had become ‘unsustainable for this council to have confidence in a leader and cabinet who have presided over such an outcome’.


It called for all fire service budget cuts proposed for 2019/20 to be withdrawn completely and for priority to be given to recruiting firefighters to replace those lost since 2010.


It also asked for a review led by an independent person to be carried out to determine whether alternative arrangements should be made for the governance of the fire service.


And it called on the council to ‘stop prevaricating’ about the funding received by the fire service and to ‘finally press the government for urgent additional funding to properly resource the very stretched service’.


During a meeting of the full council on Friday, members voted to accept an amendment from Cllr Jacquie Russell (C, East Grinstead S & Ashurst Wood) which took out the ‘no confidence’ call. Her amendment also adjusted the wording of Cllr Jones’ notice to reflect the improvement plan already put in place by the council and the fire service.


There were some harsh words aimed at Mr Jones, with Cllr David Edwards (C, Bersted) calling his notice ‘another vitriolic rant calling for blood’ and ‘another tirade from a political opportunist’.
Cllr Edwards said Cllr Mrs Goldsmith would ‘never walk away’.


Cllr Jones (Southgate & Gossops Green) said: “It’s rich they’ve accused me of being political with this issue and weaponising it.


“It’s deeply ironic because we’re only here because of the political decisions that the Tory administration has made in the past.”

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