Abrupt end to chief exec debate sparks second councillor walkout - The Malvern Observer
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Abrupt end to chief exec debate sparks second councillor walkout

Malvern Editorial 4th Sep, 2014 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

THE CONTROVERSIAL proposal for Malvern Hills District Council to share a chief executive with its Wychavon counterpart has once again sparked angry scenes.

For the second consecutive Full Council meeting, opposition councillors have walked out in disgust at the actions of the ruling Tories during the debate.

Although not quite the mass exodus which occurred in July involving every member of the Democratic and Lib Dem groups, a handful of councillors exited the council chamber on Tuesday night (September 2) outraged because some members had been denied the chance to speak.

The latest instalment of the saga which has gone on for more than three months, came as the two opposition groups called the extraordinary meeting to table alternative options to re-structure the council’s senior management team.

They included reducing the chief executive’s post to half time, removing the role altogether and splitting the duties among the other senior managers as well as further models to give the council chief a portfolio and reduce the five senior heads, to three or even two.

Coun John Raine (Dem) who presented the report, called on the council to suspend the move and form a cross-party group to analyse different management options in further detail and report back by March next year.

“This report brings a degree of rationality to the move,” he said. “We are concerned about the undue haste to tie the knot with Wychavon.

“It is only sensible to ask for more time to consider all of the options. Sharing a chief executive is an option but it definitely is not the only show in town.”

While many councillors aired their views on the paper including all three party leaders, the debate was abruptly cut off when Tory Coun Roger Hall-Jones called for the decision to be taken immediately, a move which was voted through narrowly.

“We have had three sessions on this now, the time has come to make a decision.” he said.

Coun Anthony Warburton (Dem) who had registered to speak on the night but was denied, was incensed by the decision.

“It is an act of gross and unforgivable discourtesy to interrupt or otherwise prevent a fellow elected member from speaking on behalf of the constituents he was elected to represent,” he said. “I regret that by his action tonight, he (Coun Hall-Jones) has lost, forever, the respect and esteem in which I formerly held him. I suspect that I am not alone in that regard.”

Coun Raine added it was ‘very sad’ a positive debate had been ended in such a way.

After several councillors left the chamber the proposal to suspend the chief exec talks and explore further options was outvoted by 19 to 12, with two members abstaining.

Further fallout from the night including what councillors said during the debate, to follow.

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