Council leader ousted as Tories win vote of no confidence

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bcp no confidence
Bournemouth Town Hall, HQ for BCP Council

THE leader of BCP Council has been deposed after a vote of no confidence against her succeeded.

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Brought by Conservative opposition, the motion against Liberal Democrat Cllr Vikki Slade at Tuesday’s full council meeting said there was now “a high level of public frustration and mistrust” in the Unity Alliance administration she headed, writes Josh Wright of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Unlike the previous attempt in June, the vote received majority support and a new leader will now be appointed at an extraordinary meeting on 1st October.

The motion was submitted earlier this month, immediately following the decision of Independent Cllr Julie Bagwell to leave the ruling Unity Alliance amid the backlash over its controversial active travel schemes.

It came three months after a first vote narrowly failed by the casting vote of council chairman Cllr David Flagg.

Cllrs Vikki Slade and Drew Mellor

But the death of Lib Dem Cllr Pete Parrish in July and the departure of Cllr Bagwell further weakened the coalition’s position.

Introducing his latest motion at Tuesday’s meeting, Conservative group leader Cllr Drew Mellor said people living in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole had been failed by a “hapless” administration.

“We have been here before and our fears of what would come to pass have been sadly confounded as the Unity Alliance lurched within 24 hours from one crisis and one U-turn to another,” he said. “We cannot afford, our residents cannot afford, more of this leadership.”

Despite criticism from coalition members about the “reprehensible” decision to call the second vote following the death of Cllr Parrish, and with by-elections unable to be held until at least May, the vote passed by 39 votes to 33.

As a result, Cllr Slade has been removed as leader and the position will be held by deputy leader Cllr Mark Howell until a successor is appointed next month.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Mellor said the council could now “move forward with a truly positive agenda”.

“We are delighted to have carried the support of such a majority of councillors that puts clear blue water between the past and future,” he said. “I would like to thank Cllr Slade for what was undeniably a significant effort over the last 16 months.”

Cllr Slade said she was “incredibly proud” of what her administration had achieved but hit out at the decision to call the vote.

“The cabinet have put their hearts and souls into their work, showing leadership, compassion and dedication,” she said. “They have won the trust of [council] officers but sadly have been let down by circumstances.

“Had we not seen the deaths of two of our colleagues the opportunity to bring a vote against us would not have come about and we would have weathered the storm.

“It still makes me angry that the leader of the Conservative group was so impatient to get his hands on power that he could not even pause to give time to grieve their loss, bringing the vote at the first opportunity not once but twice.”

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