HEREFORDSHIRE Council’s ruling Tory group will continue control as a minority administration until two by-elections decide its fate.
Though the Tories are 27-29 down against the overall opposition vote, their rule was not challenged at this morning’s (Friday) meeting of the full council.
Cllr Tony Johnson was returned as council leader with one vote against and five abstentions.
But It’s Our County (IOC) lost its control of the council’s key overview and scrutiny committee to a Tory-Independent double act.
Independent group leader Cllr Sebastian Bowen ousted Cllr Alan Seldon as scrutiny chairman and Tory Cllr Barry Durkin replaces Cllr Liz Harvey as deputy chairman.
Despite that deal being sealed behind the scenes, IOC leader Cllr Anthony Powers proposed Cllrs Seldon and Harvey kept their roles.
Proposed by Cllr John Hardwick, Cllr Bowen, who did not sit on overview and scrutiny, beat Cllr Seldon to chairman by 41 votes to 8 with 2 abstentions.
Cllr Durkin, proposed by Cllr Patricia Morgan, beat Cllr Harvey to vice-chair by 35 votes to 12 with 4 abstentions.
IOC roundly attacked the Tory-Independent alliance that forced the party from its top table places .
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Harvey said that up until this week it had been assumed that she and Cllr Seldon would continue in their roles for another year.
“Strong scrutiny does not guarantee good leadership, but fear of strong scrutiny is a clear indication of poor leadership,” she said.
Cllr Bowen is now expected to stand down as leader of the Independent group with former leader Cllr Bob Matthews stepping up to see the group through to next year’s council election.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Bowen confirmed that he was “considering his position” with the group due to decide on the direction of its leadership.
Other appointments confirmed this morning are:
- Chairman of Planning: Cllr Phil Cutter (elected unopposed)
- Vice-Chairman of Planning: Cllr Polly Andrews (beat Cllr Dave Greenow 33-14 with 4 abstentions)
- Chairman of Health & Social Care Scrutiny: Cllr Carl Attwood (unopposed)
- Vice-Chairman of Health and Social Care Scrutiny: Cllr Marcelle Lloyd-Hayes (unopposed)
- Chairman of Audit and Governance: Cllr John Jarvis (elected with 5 abstentions)
- Vice-Chairman of Audit and Governance: Cllr Liz Chave (unopposed)
- Chairman of Regulatory Committee: Cllr Alan Seldon (unopposed)
- Vice-Chairman of Regulatory Committee – Cllr Phil Edwards (unopposed)
Cllr Olwyn Barnett was elected as Council Chairman for another term with 1 vote against and 2 abstentions, Cllr John Stone was elected unopposed as deputy chairman.
The formal appointment of a deputy leader to the council is yet to be confirmed.
By-elections are due in Ledbury and Leominster South, seats held by the Tories but currently vacant after the deaths of Cllr Peter Watts and Cllr Roger Hunt