Tories’ bid to seize power at council slammed by coalition as ‘irresponsible and underhand’

no confidence vote bcp council
BCP Council is currently run by the Unity Alliance coalition

MEMBERS of the coalition controlling BCP Council have attacked a push for a vote of no confidence in its leadership as “irresponsible and underhand”.


At tomorrow’s (Tuesday) full council meeting, the Conservative group will call the vote saying the minority multi-party Unity Alliance was “paralysed” by competing priorities, writes Josh Wright of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Coalition members have attacked the decision, saying the opposition group was “taking advantage” of the death of a councillor and fearful that its work was beginning to bear fruit.

Conservative group leader Cllr Drew Mellor announced last week his intention to call a vote of no confidence in council leader Vikki Slade.

He said he would run a “more experienced” administration in dealing with a funding gap of more than £30m that the council’s coronavirus response has left.

The Conservative group has as many councillors as the coalition following the death of Christchurch Independent Cllr Colin Bungey, and Cllr Mellor said it was better placed to deal with financial issues.

But in a letter the five Poole People councillors, including council deputy leader Mark Howell, said a change of administration would be “extremely disruptive and unhelpful”.

“The Unity Alliance (UA) has been remarkably successful in its first year,” the letter said. “Its councillors represent a wide spectrum of views and possess diverse skills and experience.

“The cabinet has been full of energy, and is continuing to develop policies to deal with our housing shortage, kick-start regeneration, and move towards sustainability while consolidating and transforming the council structure, protecting vulnerable adults and children, and addressing the unprecedented impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The decision by Cllr Mellor to take advantage of the death of a Unity Alliance councillor by tabling a vote of no confidence in the leader of the council is irresponsible and underhand.

“It is a sign of desperation as he can see that the new policies and projects that the UA has been working on over the past year are beginning to bear fruit. He feels the need to make a play before the public gets to see these benefits.”

Similar concerns have been raised by other members of the coalition, including Liberal Democrat and Christchurch Independent councillors.

But Cllr Mellor dismissed the allegations and said the vote was called because of “policy paralysis”.

He said: “Because of the number of resignations both within political groups that make up the alliance and from the alliance itself, the arrangement is now even more disparate and compromising than initially and has led to a paralysed minority administration that doesn’t have the numbers to get its budget through.

“There is a necessity to come together now as a councillor base and to tackle the enormous health and economic crisis we are facing.”

He said the Conservatives would offer a “stronger, more experienced and more inclusive” administration should they succeed with the vote tomorrow.