CRACKS have appeared in Southend Council’s fragile joint administration less then two weeks after it was formed.
Labour and the Independents formed a joint administration with the Lib Dems to oust the Tories, but senior members of the two groups have fallen out just 11 days after sweeping to power.
The Independent group’s spokesman, Martin Terry, has told Julian Ware-Lane to decide if he is “inside or outside the tent” after the Labour councillor accused Mr Terry, who is responsible for public protection, waste and transport, of being “drunk with power”.
Mr Terry said: “Julian is part of the joint administration, but he is still on the learning curve as to whether he wants to be inside or outside the tent.
“Maybe he wants to go and sit with the Conservatives if he likes to complain so much.
“I’m confused because there are three Labour members of the cabinet, the same number as Independent members, and we have included some issues cherished by the Labour group in the joint administration.
“I don’t understand what Julian is doing. He is causing a lot of upset and a lot of people are raising their eyebrows at his approach.”
In an incendiary letter to the Echo, Mr Ware-Lane accused the Independents’ “overheated spin machine” of announcing policies, such as a review of the controversial Shoebury Common seawall, before they had been agreed.
The Milton councillor said: “I can understand the excitement of taking over after 14 years, but I’m concerned we are making decisions on the fly without consulting the council chamber.
“The joint administration agreement was made by three groups and the form of words talks of ‘reviews’ and not to prejudge those reviews.
“We might conclude that the seawall should be scrapped, but I think it’s in everyone’s best interest to keep an open mind.”
Mr Ware-Lane also criticised the joint administration for announcing new leader Ron Woodley and the cabinet, which includes Labour leader Ian Gilbert as one of two deputy leaders, before the full council voted for the change.
Mr Terry said: “It seems like Julian hasn’t realised the election is over and we need to knuckle down and deliver what the town wants.”