THE team which will lead East Staffordshire Borough Council under its new ‘cooperative’ leadership has been announced by the authority.
Two of the ‘Tory Rebels’ have been given positions on the new cabinet, which has been expanded from five to six under the stewardship of Labour’s Julian Mott.
Independent councillors Malcolm Barrett and Robert Hardwick, who supported Labour in their bid to oust former leader Councillor Richard Grosvenor, will now have responsibility for programmes and transformation and cultural services, respectively.
Other portfolios have gone to Labour councillors Dennis Fletcher (built environment), Michael Fitzpatrick (finance) and Sonia Andjelkovic (regulatory services).
Councillor Mott said: “I’m really pleased that we have a strong cabinet of members who have got plenty of experience. We will use that as best we can.”
The cooperative leading group, as it is now called, has been criticised for having a ‘jobs for the boys’ attitude, in promising cabinet positions for the Independents – who left the Conservative group last year – in exchange for backing in their bid for leadership.
Uttoxeter’s Tory MP Andrew Griffiths said: “The decision is completely self-serving, because these councillors wanted jobs on the cabinet.
“I’m deeply frustrated, as this takes away the voice of the people of East Staffordshire.
“We had an election and the people of East Staffordshire voted for Conservative councillors and a Conservative authority, and they have been robbed of that because of a dodgy deal and jobs for the boys.”
Councillors Mott and Hardwick have denied this is the case, saying the groups have joined forces to form a new, open administration.
Councillor Hardwick said: “We hold the balance of power. Why wouldn’t we want to be there and be part of a more inclusive council?
“We’re not their to wield power for our own benefit. We believe the new administration will be best for the council and the residents of East Staffordshire.”
Speaking of his new role as leader of the council, Councillor Mott said: “I think Councillor Grosvenor wanted to keep the decision making to himself and one other, I want to involve as many people from the council as possible.
“It will be a much wider decision making process. We will listen to what people have to say.”
He added there are ‘exciting times’ ahead and he was looking forward to tackling challenges in the run up to the next election.