Council braced for Tory takeover attempt in vote of no confidence this evening

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Bournemouth Town Hall, HQ for BCP Council

THE second vote of no confidence in the leader of BCP Council will be considered at its meeting this evening (Tuesday).

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The previous attempt by the Conservative opposition to remove Liberal Democrat Cllr Vikki Slade narrowly failed in June by the casting vote of the council’s chairman, writes Josh Wright of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

But the decision of Independent Cllr Julie Bagwell to leave the ruling Unity Alliance coalition has spurred a second motion which will be heard later today.

BCP Cllr Drew Mellor

The vote was put forward by Conservative group leader Cllr Drew Mellor. He pointed to “a number of decisions” made by the council in recent weeks “without proper consultation”, hitting out particularly at the implementation of controversial active travel schemes aiming to reduce reliance on cars.

“Ward councillors were only consulted or informed once plans were set to be implemented,” his motion will say. “This has resulted in a high level of public frustration and mistrust.

“It is clear that the Unity Alliance administration is making decisions and plans without due regard to resident, business, visitor or councillor comment or suggestions.

“This council therefore has no confidence in the current administration to deliver for the residents of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole and seeks the removal from office of its leader.”

Councillors will be asked to support the motion at this evening’s meeting, with the Conservative group confident they now have enough support for it to succeed.

But members of the Unity Alliance have said the vote is taking advantage of a numbers advantage brought about partly by the recent deaths of Christchurch Independent Cllr Colin Bungey and Liberal Democrat Cllr Pete Parrish.

Leader of BCP Council Cllr Vikki Slade

Cllr Slade said: “This is incredibly bad for the residents of the area, for business and for the [council] staff who have been working so hard throughout the pandemic.”

Unity Alliance chair Cllr L-J Evans said she was “shocked and appalled” the vote had been called so soon after the death of Cllr Parrish and the failure of the previous vote.

“After our colleagues’ deaths we no longer have a majority and are unable to resolve this until by-elections can be held in May 2021,” she said.

“Let us not forget that this is happening during a global pandemic, at a time when the council needs stability.”

She said consultation on the active travel schemes had been carried out in line with the terms of the government-funded initiative with consultation taking place during the trial of the measures.

Should the motion pass, a vote for a new leader of the council will have to be held.

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