“I ABSOLUTELY stand by the fact it was the right thing to do” said the leader of a council covering Uttoxeter 100 days after a Labour coup to oust the Tories.
East Staffordshire Borough Council leader Julian Mott formed an understanding with the so-called Tory rebels, who defected from the Conservative group to go independent, to develop a cooperative council to oust former leader Richard Grosvenor.
More than three months on, Councillor Mott believes his new council has many positive changes within the authority.
He said: “The council before was run by one or two people. It was not listening to what other people had to say.
“We are working with the Labour group and East Staffordshire Independents but we have rarely had any disagreements, and I think we have made a lot of progress. We have tried to involve as many people as possible.”
The creation of an ‘inclusive council’ was one of the flagship policies for the Labour leader when he took to the helm of the authority, and he said much had been done to achieve that.
Other changes brought about, he says, include the introduction of free swimming for children under 16 during summer holidays and work to replace the bollards. He has also promised a zero per cent council tax rise.
When Councillor Grosvenor was ousted in a landmark full council meeting in February, he warned the Labour group could undo all of the hard work his councillors had put into balancing the books.
He has since raised issue with the amount of money the new administration is promising for flagship projects. These measures, he said, would cost the council £225,000, which had to be funded against a background of budget cuts from central Government.
He has accused the group of trying to ‘covertly’ raise extra council tax by asking people to pay for a brown bin – due to be discussed in July.
He said: “Taking over was not the right thing for them to do. It was a case of jobs for the boys for the Independent members, and it’s galling to see them sitting on the cabinet. They have tried to do some different things, but I don’t see what they have done that’s positive.”
He accused the administration of taking credit for Tory policies and ideas which were put in place under his leadership, such as changes to the CCTV, which were listed under the corporate plan approved before the previous administration was ousted.
“Now Labour are the third party in East Staffordshire following the Euro elections I am not convinced these items will do anything to change that. It should be a big worry for them,” Councillor Grosvenor added.