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Tory’s stance causes clash

By Lotte Pegler
lotte.pegler@sussexpost.co.uk

 

A councillor has been accused of acting childishly after standing down over changes to the cabinet structure.

 

Cllr Terrence Chapman (con) resigned from the Audit and Governance Committee at Arun District Council after clashes regarding the decision to scrap the current cabinet structure, which has been running for 20 years.

 

The system will be replaced by a set of committees, a decision championed by the council’s ruling Lib Dem party and backed by Green, Labour and Independent members.

 

However, the decision has been fiercely opposed by Conservative members. Cllr James Walsh said: “This was a childish gesture from the Conservative group, as they were not getting their own way.

 

“The matter had been decided by a majority vote at full council after they filibustered at that meeting. Throwing your toys out the pram is not a mature way for elected councillors to behave.”

 

At the meeting on February 13, Cllr Chapman said he declined to serve further on the audit and governance committee.

 

In a statement at the meeting, he said: “I wish to make a statement on the minutes of this committee covering the special meeting held on December 19 and covering subsequent issues.

 

“The outcome of the meeting was that the governance working party’s proposal on a change to the governance arrangements of this council were not supported at that stage and that any decision on a change be deferred to enable a members seminar to be held with more information on the proposed options.

 

“When this recommendation was debated at the governance working party on January 6, it was not supported.

 

Subsequently, at full council on January 15, the recommendation from the working party was debated.

 

“During the debate I proposed an amendment to refer the matter back to the working party and that the working party sought further independent assurance from this committee before bringing their recommendation back to full council.

 

“Among others, you and the vice-chairman voted against this. Subsequently, both you and the vice- chairman, among others, voted for the recommendation from the working party.

 

“It is my personal view that in both of these votes the constitutional requirement for this committee to provide independent assurance of the adequacy of the governance and risk management framework so as to best protect the council’s reputation was undermined.

 

“On a related issue, I think it sad to see the independence and status of this committee being undermined by party political whipping and this may prove to be a very slippery slope. Therefore, I decline to serve further on this committee and I ask that this statement be included in the minutes of this meeting.”

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