BCP Council leader Drew Mellor survives no-confidence vote brought by Christchurch Independents
BCP Conservative council leader Drew Mellor has comfortably survived a no-confidence vote brought by the Christchurch Independents group.
The 40-27 vote came as no surprise with the majority of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole councillors lining up to speak on the motion, brought by the Christchurch independents group, writes Trevor Bevins of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
Opponents of Cllr Mellor claimed the council was being brought into disrepute with questionable financial decisions, a lack of openness and claims that while its leaders showed a willingness to work with developers, they had little interest in listening to residents.
Cllr Mellor said that he stood by his record of leadership with four councillors crossing the chamber to join the group since he became leader in October 2020 with one by-election victory – compared to the previous administration which he said had been “crumbling and falling apart.”
He said under his leadership there had been massive investment in the area, including plans for more than 1,000 new council homes, a 35% increase in the children’s services budget, millions of pounds into the Cleaner, Greener, Safer strategy and £20m extra into sustainability projects.
But Cllr Lesley Dedman, who brought the no-confidence motion, said many residents believed the council was not addressing their needs and had failed to deliver on its promises.
“Folk in our communities just want our council to be reliable and responsible and not feature in Private Eye.
“The residents didn’t ask for a ‘City by the Sea’ or a world leading anything the council leader cares to mention… They want a council they can be proud of , which is not this council.
“It’s a travesty, not only of what we were promised…it’s run like a fiefdom. Our residents deserve better,” she said.
The debate had many harsh words but there was a smile from the leader when Cllr Duane Farr said Cllr Mellor ought to be dubbed Postman Pat because he continued to deliver.
Other allegations were less complimentary with claims from various opposition councillors that the authority was now a national embarrassment, that there had been spin, falsehoods and disrespect, all of which were denied by Conservative councillors.
Opposition councillors complained of not being able to see reports on which key decisions were made and there was criticism of how two councillors had been brought into the April meeting to win a vote on re-structuring the council’s overview and scrutiny committees, after previously apologising for absence because they were unwell.
Cllr Mellor said that despite claims over health and safety concerns for staff and other councillors at that meeting all the Government’s Covid guidelines had been followed.
Poole councillor Mark Howell said the council leadership marginalised some councillors and was now an authority in financial distress with a failing transformation programme and the administration “limping on until the next election.”
Green councillor Chris Rigby called for a change in the system of governance – from the leader and cabinet model to the committee system where more councillors would have a say in decisions.
“This is the third vote of no confidence since the council was created – it’s about time for a change… no one has a monopoly on good ideas,” he said.