New EDDC leader 'relieved' over Tory chairman's resignation

  Posted: 02.06.20 at 16:10 by Philip Evans

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East Devon District Council’s new Leader has described the resignation of Cllr Stuart Hughes as chairman of the council as "a relief".

The statement from EDDC’s new Leader, Cllr Paul Arnott, comes after Cllr Hughes levelled a number of criticisms at the new administration in his letter of resignation yesterday (June 1).

Last week the council came under new leadership following the resignation of former leader CllrBen Ingham and his cabinet.

The 60-strong council is now being run by an administration of 31 councillors from both the Democratic Alliance and the Independent Progressive Group, led by Cllr Arnott.

Cllr Hughes, who will continue to serve as a district councillor, has resigned from the role of chairman with immediate effect, blaming his departure on "game playing by some members of the council".

He also described attempts to blame him for the unceremonious break up of an extraordinary meeting of the council last week the ‘final straw’.

In his response to Cllr Hughes’ resignation, Cllr Arnott told Nub News: “It is a relief to see Cllr Hughes leave the chair at East Devon.

He took the opportunity provided by a change in legislation by the government to prematurely cancel the annual council meeting, and this decision has predictably created five meetings at a time of crisis to do the same business.

“I have no doubt that he hoped for an outcome where he simply stayed in the chair for a second year, described by his leader last week as "the regular term", wrong constitutionally and undesirable politically. He claims to have filled the chair as a "civic" role, but this sweeping statement on his way out parrots Tory press releases.

“East Devon people must find these graceless political knock-abouts pretty shameful, and I agree.

“So here are some facts. The new cabinet has a new portfolio role dedicated to Covid-19 response and recovery, and this week is filled with meetings to get that going.

"It has a new Portfolio role for Climate Action, essential for environment and economic recovery, and again the unit of four looking at all this is already meeting.

"It has a four person unit looking at the broad spectrum of Finances, necessary because of the millions of pounds projected black holes left by the outgoing Tories exacerbated by their own government.

“The Cabinet of 10 has five former Cabinet members and an array of highly experienced people from business and local government. And crucially we have a stable majority of 32 who voted for us to take over, following the motion of non confidence in the last leader by Cllr Hughes own Conservative colleagues as the virus swept across Europe in February, and then that leader's resignation in the last fortnight.

“All that said I wish Cllr Hughes best wishes for his imminent county council campaign and for his unique ongoing work as a local radio disc jockey.”

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