Sedgemoor District Council has a new Chairman,Vice Chairman and Executive Committee. All Tories. As re-elected Council Leader Duncan McGinty announced his new team, which included Duchess of Durleigh, Gill Slocombe, as his deputy, and Badlands Boy, Lance Duddridge, as Portfolio Holder for ‘Customer Access and the Digital Doomsday Device’ (or something) , Labour’s new Leader Cllr Diogo Rodrigues made clear in his maiden speech that Labour was prepared for ‘constructive working with all parties on Sedgemoor’.
With Sedgemoor’s political balance now tighter than ever as the Tory majority shrunk at the last election , committees are very evenly balanced in some cases, with Conservatives having a majority of just 1 on key arenas like the 2 Scrutiny committees which will again be chaired by Labour. Cllr Brian Smedley will chair the inward looking Corporate Scrutiny Committee and Cllr Kathy Pearce the outward looking Community Scrutiny, both with the power to call in Tory Executive decisions. All other committees will have a clear Tory majority plus Tory Chairs.
As McGinty named his new Executive, Diogo responded with Labour names to shadow them and hold them to account. New Mayor of Bridgwater Cllr Tony Heywood (Eastover) would shadow Tory Mark Healey on Commercial and Asset management, while fellow Eastover Labour councillor Li Gibson would shadow Tory Andrew Gilling on Housing. Highbridge Tory Cllr Janet Keen was appointed Portfolio for Community and Well Being, shadowed by Dunwear Labour councillor Alexia Bartlett, Cllr Mike Caswell (Con,Quantocks) at Infrastructure and Transport would be shadowed by Hamp Labours Cllr Leigh Redman and Cllr Kathy Pearce (Labour Westover) would shadow Lance ‘I’m on Fire’ Duddridge.
Two Labour Shadows fell swiftly across the path of Cllr Gill Slocombe, (Con Wyndham) with Cllr Brian Smedley shadowing her Deputy Leader role and Cllr Graham Granter (Fairfax,Labour) shadowing her extra portfolio of Inward Investment and Growth.
Born to Run
As the Tories appointed their leaders and deputy leaders, Labour let them get on with it leading to Tory groans. Tory councillor for Burnham North , Peter Clayton was made Chairman of Council and Tory Petherton member Alan Bradford became Vice Chairman. Labour smiled sweetly.
Dancing in the Dark
Now on Sedgemoor there are 7 LibDems. Cllr Bill Revans (North Petherton) proudly announced he was no longer the ‘Gang of One’ but had now been joined by 5 colleagues to become the Magnificent 7…well, one was missing presumed Australian. Councillor C.Dundee probably. But the Liberals weren’t happy and wanted some places on ‘Outside Bodies’. Revans asked McGinty to let his antipodean colleague have just one little place please. On the Mendip Hills AONB Partnership perhaps. That sounded fair thought Labour -so they backed him up. But the Tories closed ranks and crushed the minor liberal uprising before it could get off the ground. 25-18. Well, a tighter margin than in recent years.
And there was an Independent. Who abstained on every single vote. Apart from the one where he was offered a committee place on Corporate Scrutiny. Then he voted for it.
Working constructively had started….or had it?