Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Political Full House Fury; All Positions on Council Go to Ruling Group

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Political Full House Fury; All Positions on Council Go to Ruling Group

Article excerpt

Byline: Brian Daniel

NEW rulers at Northumberland County Hall have been accused of ignoring the electorate after making a clean sweep of top positions, despite being a minority administration.

At yesterday's first full meeting of the county council since the May 1 elections, the Liberal Democrat group took the leadership and vice-leadership of the council as well as all six executive positions.

The Lib Dems also claimed the six executive assistant posts and the civic roles of chairman and vice-chairman.

However, opponents claimed the stance went against the wishes of the electorate whose votes meant the Lib Dems have less than half the seats in the hung council - 26 of 67.

Leader of the opposition Conservative Independent Group (CIG) Coun Peter Jackson said the administration's stance made its calls to work in partnership with others "phoney".

He said: "I have been trying to form some kind of inclusive structure in this council. That is really why I cannot accept the fact that there should be a one-party executive.

"It really does not reflect the decision that the voters of Northumberland have made on May 1."

Labour group leader Coun Grant Davey asked whether the Lib Dems would be sharing the civic positions in future years given that no party has overall control.

New council leader Coun Jeff Reid said: "We won the election, 36,000 voted Lib Dem, they wanted a Lib Dem-led council and that is what we are going to do."

Coun Reid was appointed leader with Coun Roger Styring as his deputy, despite receiving less than half the votes.

The pair received 26 votes with 17 against and 18 abstentions after the CIG opted not to put forward any candidates of its own. The make-up of the executive was approved with a similar vote.

Meanwhile, the Lib Dems were criticised for making policies in the Press, rather than in the council chamber, over their announcement that post-16 educational transport charges are to be scrapped. …

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