Rochford Tories accused of 'gagging' their rivals

Angry - councillors Christine and John Mason, and Michael and Diane Hoy

Angry - councillors Christine and John Mason, and Michael and Diane Hoy

First published in Local News by

OPPOSITION councillors have blasted a decision taken by Tories in Rochford to ban them from calling in cabinet decisions.

Conservative councillors on Rochford District Council voted in favour of removing the right of ordinary councillors to refer decisions made by the cabinet to full council for further discussion.

The council, controlled by a Tory majority, operates a cabinet system – called the executive – made up of nine Conservative members who make decisions, either collectively or individually, on matters of policy and management.

Previously, any three ordinary members of the council could call in urgent decisions made at cabinet level, but, after losing the vote, by 20 to 11, they will no longer be able to do so.

Green councillor for Hullbridge ward, Michael Hoy, said: “This strikes at the heart of democracy and accountability.

“Members who failed to vote against the motion will not be trusted.”

The review committee, chaired by Mr Hoy, may still call in any decision made by the executive, but opposition members are concerned by the number of Conservatives on the committee.

Ron Oatham, Lib Dem councillor for Downhall and Rawreth, said: “The review committee is a toothless tiger.

“I will support to the death the suggestion we return to a democratic system.”

John Mason, opposition leader for the alliance between the Rochford District Residents Party and the Greens, agreed with Mr Oatham.

He said: “The majority political control on the reviewcommittee can be used to stop referrals in their tracks.

“I pledge that if and when the situation arises, I will give priority to working with others to remove the cabinet system.”

Toby Mountain, an independent conservative, and councillors for UKIP and Labour also spoke out strongly against the motion.

Leader of the council, Terry Cutmore, said the motion was made to make sure the council operates efficiently.

He said: “Whilst the constitution indicates referral should only be utilised in exceptional circumstances, the definition of this is open to interpretation.

“By far the majority of all executive decisions could potentially be referred up, this means the business of the Council could be significantly affected.

“A significant delay can have both cost and customer service implications.”

Vote's a disgrace, claim residents

THE public gallery was full at Tuesday’s meeting, with an audible level of displeasure at the evening’s proceedings.

Ironic laughter greeted comments from council leader Terry Cutmore and one member of the public was heard to say “it’s just not democracy”, after the motion on executive referrals was passed.

Chris Black, Lib Dem councillor for Downhall and Rawreth, even spoke out and questioned the standing of the council in the eyes of the public.

He said: “Over the years Rochford District Council has been a place of goodwill and respect.

“But in the past year, the respect of people in the district for the council has gone down and down.”

Gary Congram, Hullbridge historian, attended the meeting and said people were not happy with what they saw.

He said: “Every member of the public left the meeting saying ‘disgrace’, and ‘what is the point of voting when our voices cannot be heard?’”

How they all voted...

IN FAVOUR OF THE MOTION: Lesley Butcher (Hawkwell North), Terry Cutmore (Ashingdon and Canewdon), Robin Dray (Whitehouse), Heather Glynn (Hawkwell South), Keith Gordon (Rochford), John Griffin (Wheatley), Brian Hazlewood (Hockley Central), Jack Lawmon (Wheatley), Gillian Lucas-Gill (Rochford), June Lumley (Grange), Malcolm Maddocks (Hockley West), Jo McPherson (Hawkwell North), David Merrick (Lodge), Joan Mockford (Sweyne Park), Cheryl Roe (Rayleigh Central), Colin Seagers (Foulness and Great Wakering), Margaret Spencer (Rayleigh Central), Mike Steptoe (Barling and Sutton), Ian Ward (Lodge), Barbara Wilkins (Foulness and Great Wakering). All Conservative apart from Mrs Lumley (Lib Dem).

AGAINST THE MOTION: Chris Black (Downhall and Rawreth, Lib Dem), Jamie Burton (Grange, Ukip), Jerry Gibson (Rochford, Lab), John Hayter (Trinity, Ukip), Neil Hookway (Foulness and Great Wakering, Ukip), Diane Hoy (Hullbridge, Green), Michael Hoy (Hullbridge, Green), Christine Mason (Hawkwell West, RDR), John Mason (Hawkwell West, RDR), Toby Mountain (Sweyne Park, Independent conservative), Ron Oatham (Downhall and Rawreth, Lib Dem)

...and rebels lose fight over parking fees

THE ongoing saga of parking charges in the Rochford district has now drawn to a close.

Increased charges will come into force from Monday, meaning an hour’s parking in a Rochford District Council controlled car park will now cost £1, rather than 80p.

Nine opposition councillors tabledamotion to rescind the decision, made earlier this month, to increase the charges, but the vote was lost by 19 votes to 11 at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Toby Mountain, independent conservative councillor for Sweyne Park, said: “There has been a lack of transparency in the debate and decision-making process, the whole issue has been totally fudged from the start.”

The opposition claimed there was a lack of up-to-date financial information when the decision was made on July 1.

Yvonne Woodward, the council’s head of finance, justified the charges and said even with the increased charges, there will still be a budget shortfall.

She said: “We will still need to find £140,000 for the budget throughout this year.”

As previously decided, parking on a Saturday afternoon will remain free across the district.

Comments (7)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

9:31am Fri 1 Aug 14

rayleighrunner says...

Well i'm glad my councillor (Jamie Burton, Grange UKIP) voted against!! And I'm glad I voted for him, rather than the conservative candidate who stood against him, as they would have voted 'for', without a shadow of a doubt. Things will not improve all the time the conservatives have such a majority in the District. I've been to many meetings, and most of the Conservative councillors sit in silence. They just raise their hand and cast their vote as when they are told to. It's a disgrace.
Well i'm glad my councillor (Jamie Burton, Grange UKIP) voted against!! And I'm glad I voted for him, rather than the conservative candidate who stood against him, as they would have voted 'for', without a shadow of a doubt. Things will not improve all the time the conservatives have such a majority in the District. I've been to many meetings, and most of the Conservative councillors sit in silence. They just raise their hand and cast their vote as when they are told to. It's a disgrace. rayleighrunner
  • Score: 4

10:32am Fri 1 Aug 14

Democrat says...

I am sorry but this action by the Conservative junta is more than undemocratic. My vote was 'bought' by promises to drop increases in parking charges and other issues which the "Nine" have now resurrected as they are back in power. I will now be ridiculed by the UKIP supporters for trusting them. If you read this part of the article, it sounds like a politburo diktat.

"Conservative councillors on Rochford District Council voted in favour of removing the right of ordinary councillors to refer decisions made by the cabinet to full council for further discussion."

and

"The council, controlled by a Tory majority, operates a cabinet system – called the executive – made up of nine Conservative members who make decisions, either collectively or individually, on matters of policy and management."

Our elected councillors are being prevented from being heard, which is an indication of a dictatorship.

I intend, as a constituent, to make a formal complaint to the Local Government Policy Division of the government department responsible for guidelines and policy.
I am sorry but this action by the Conservative junta is more than undemocratic. My vote was 'bought' by promises to drop increases in parking charges and other issues which the "Nine" have now resurrected as they are back in power. I will now be ridiculed by the UKIP supporters for trusting them. If you read this part of the article, it sounds like a politburo diktat. "Conservative councillors on Rochford District Council voted in favour of removing the right of ordinary councillors to refer decisions made by the cabinet to full council for further discussion." and "The council, controlled by a Tory majority, operates a cabinet system – called the executive – made up of nine Conservative members who make decisions, either collectively or individually, on matters of policy and management." Our elected councillors are being prevented from being heard, which is an indication of a dictatorship. I intend, as a constituent, to make a formal complaint to the Local Government Policy Division of the government department responsible for guidelines and policy. Democrat
  • Score: 7

11:32am Fri 1 Aug 14

rayleighrunner says...

I would have voted conservative too, but i'm fed up of how our town and district is run. we have a conservative MP. Conservative Town Council. Conservative District Council and Conservative Police Commissioner. The Conservative WHIP rules Rayleigh and Rochford. I voted UKIP because Jamie Burton lives in Grange Ward and genuinely cares about his ward and town. I often see him walking round his ward with his kids, picking up litter, trying to keep it nice. The conservatives are destroying Rayleigh and Rochford and the sooner they don't have control, the better! I hope people realise that very soon. I shall also be voting UKIP at the general election next year, I've decided.
I would have voted conservative too, but i'm fed up of how our town and district is run. we have a conservative MP. Conservative Town Council. Conservative District Council and Conservative Police Commissioner. The Conservative WHIP rules Rayleigh and Rochford. I voted UKIP because Jamie Burton lives in Grange Ward and genuinely cares about his ward and town. I often see him walking round his ward with his kids, picking up litter, trying to keep it nice. The conservatives are destroying Rayleigh and Rochford and the sooner they don't have control, the better! I hope people realise that very soon. I shall also be voting UKIP at the general election next year, I've decided. rayleighrunner
  • Score: 3

12:05pm Fri 1 Aug 14

RayleighNobby says...

This interested me. So I went on the council website and read this meetings papers. It would appear the 'referral system' that this is all over was intended for use 'ONLY IN EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES' (it is there in black and white you can check) and then looking at the other papers which includes things that were called in - it appears that these do not look like 'Exceptional???'
So looking at this from an unbiased point of view have the people who used it wrongly not forced this situation?.
I notice (unless I am wrong) no other authority has this 'referral system' so am I thinking are these guys making much of something that no other authority has? No politician have ever seemed to need a 'paper' or 'process' in place to ever keep them quiet before.
This interested me. So I went on the council website and read this meetings papers. It would appear the 'referral system' that this is all over was intended for use 'ONLY IN EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES' (it is there in black and white you can check) and then looking at the other papers which includes things that were called in - it appears that these do not look like 'Exceptional???' So looking at this from an unbiased point of view have the people who used it wrongly not forced this situation?. I notice (unless I am wrong) no other authority has this 'referral system' so am I thinking are these guys making much of something that no other authority has? No politician have ever seemed to need a 'paper' or 'process' in place to ever keep them quiet before. RayleighNobby
  • Score: 3

12:17pm Fri 1 Aug 14

rayleighrunner says...

It shouldn't matter what other councils have, don't have, do or don't do. This is our council. We had a democratic council, and now, because of the conservatives, we don't. I was at Tuesdays meeting (most of it) and I think it was right to hold those decision to account. This is not about Rayleigh, this is about Rochford District. It seems that actually, not many decisions are challenged at all by the opposition. But, as the Conservatives make more and more unpopular decisions, in order to follow their own agenda, it is clear more of them will be challenged by the opposition who want things to be clear and concise and more importantly, right for the district. Now, the conservatives are free to make all these unpopular decisions and remain unchallenged. That's basically it. I was also very disappointed that June Lumley - also a councillor for my ward voted with the Conservatives. She is chairman of the council and I thought she was better than them. Clearly not.
It shouldn't matter what other councils have, don't have, do or don't do. This is our council. We had a democratic council, and now, because of the conservatives, we don't. I was at Tuesdays meeting (most of it) and I think it was right to hold those decision to account. This is not about Rayleigh, this is about Rochford District. It seems that actually, not many decisions are challenged at all by the opposition. But, as the Conservatives make more and more unpopular decisions, in order to follow their own agenda, it is clear more of them will be challenged by the opposition who want things to be clear and concise and more importantly, right for the district. Now, the conservatives are free to make all these unpopular decisions and remain unchallenged. That's basically it. I was also very disappointed that June Lumley - also a councillor for my ward voted with the Conservatives. She is chairman of the council and I thought she was better than them. Clearly not. rayleighrunner
  • Score: 3

2:38pm Fri 1 Aug 14

John Right says...

UKIP, seem to be losing its members of late through breaking the law.
UKIP, seem to be losing its members of late through breaking the law. John Right
  • Score: -2

10:58pm Sat 2 Aug 14

woolstone says...

As Rochford Council is undemocratic because of the system that is used it should now be abolished. The only way this will change is when we have our chance to vote, so remember next time that you cast your vote think, don't just vote Tory because you have always done so. Times have changed and the some councillors are getting too big for their boots. If we want a better council reconsider how you vote. I am very disappointed with my councillor voting for this and not against it, I shall not be voting for him again.
As Rochford Council is undemocratic because of the system that is used it should now be abolished. The only way this will change is when we have our chance to vote, so remember next time that you cast your vote think, don't just vote Tory because you have always done so. Times have changed and the some councillors are getting too big for their boots. If we want a better council reconsider how you vote. I am very disappointed with my councillor voting for this and not against it, I shall not be voting for him again. woolstone
  • Score: 1

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree