Tory threat over no confidence vote: We will FIRE Cllr Karen Chilvers for scrutinising us

October 6, 2013 2:36 PM
Cllr Karen Chilvers chairs September's Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Cllr Karen Chilvers chairs September's Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Following the recent vote of no confidence in the Tory administration* at the Liberal Democrat-chaired Overview & Scrutiny Committee now, in an astonishing and vindictive twist, Tory Deputy Leader Roger Hirst has told Lib Dem Deputy Leader Graeme Clark to replace Cllr Karen Chilvers as O&S Chair by Monday OR see her face a vote of no confidence herself and be fired as scrutiny chair by the ruling administration.

The Tories say that Cllr Chilvers should not have taken the vote of no confidence at the meeting and, even though she abstained on the vote herself, they hold her responsible for embarrassing the beleaguered administration. She said:

"This situation has only arisen because the Tory-run council is constantly failing to meet its targets and none of the senior members of the administration bothered to turn up to defend their shortcomings. Not only have they let the people of Brentwood down on targets for housing, on planning and fail to pay local businesses on time they cannot even accept scrutiny of their record and demonstrate how they are going to put things back on track.

"The fact is that, as scrutiny chair I haven't let them have an easy ride, have held a mirror up to their deficiencies and my committee has sent them a wakeup call on behalf of Brentwood. Of course they don't like it so, rather than try to address the issues and accept they need to improve, they attempt to remove me from this crucial scrutiny role to, once again, try to silence the opposition.

"Ideally, they would prefer a patsy chair to brush everything under the carpet and do as they say, leaving Brentwood residents wanting and them to carry on regardless."

Cllr Graeme Clark, Lib Dem Deputy Leader, added:

Graeme Clark

Cllr Graeme Clark, Deputy Leader of the Lib Dems

"Karen was elected as chair by the whole council, including the Tories, in May of this year. Since then she has steered a working party that has made recommendations on improvements to the council tax benefit scheme, given the committee the oppostunity to assist and advise officers in their negotiations with Essex County Council on the maintenance of our grass verges and recommended that a full staff satisfaction survey should take place after an absence of three years. For anyone to question her performance now, over two weeks after the last meeting, is ridiculous and to demand that Karen should stand down for doing her role effectively is wholly inappropriate and does not serve the people of Brentwood one bit.

"The Tories need to take scrutiny seriously and address the issues that have been raised rather than try to hound out a councillor who has highlighted the feeling of Brentwood residents.

"They should see the no confidence vote as an opportunity to improve, and getting all of their committee members to attend Overview & Scrutiny meetings would be a good start."

In 2009, the Tories moved a vote of no confidence on Cllr Barry Aspinell to remove him as chair when he held exactly the same position, a decision that was later overturned.

Cllr Chilvers will be chairing a Scrutiny Call In meeting tomorrow night (Monday 7th October) at 7pm.

* A vote of no confidence in the administration was moved on 18th September by Brentwood First's Cllr Phil Baker and seconded by Lib Dem Cllr Philip Mynott. The vote was taken and the following councillors voted in favour:

Cllr Phil Baker (Brentwood First), Cllr Liz Cohen (Liberal Democrat), Cllr Philip Mynott (Liberal Democrat) and Cllr Julie Morrissey (Labour).

Conservatives Cllr Alan Braid, Cllr Mark Reed and Cllr David Tee voted against the motion.

Cllr Karen Chilvers (Chair) abstained.

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