Thursday, March 3, 2011

All change at Huntingdonshire District Council

Hunts Post reports: Ian Bates, current Council Leader, has decided to not to become Executive Leader after the local elections on 5th May 2011. Deputy Leader Mike Simpson isn't standing in his Huntingdon East ward in May so he is out of the picture. With the Chief Executive retiring (£139,000 payoff) and his role not being replaced HDC will be a bit rudderless for a time.

In part of the his statement Ian Bates says:
Cllr Bates reflected thus on his term as leader: “Through our financial prudence this district council has and is offering our residents a high quality of service, at a very low cost, and the quality of life which we all enjoy is second to none.”

The very low cost was achieved by demolishing reserves. The reserves are running out and Ian Bates is retiring from as Leader just before they do.

Who will replace Ian?

With 37 Conservative District Councillors there should be a wider choice. But there isn't. If the Conservative District Councillors don't have their heads in the sand it isn't obvious who will want to replace Ian Bates.

Starting with the St Neots Conservative District Councillors:

Rodney Farrer - Also a County Councillor. He threatened to resign from the Conservative Group over car parking charges at the Riverside but didn't.

David Harty - Also a County Councillor where he is Executive member for Education.

Mandy Thomas - Doesn't turn up to Council Meetings but likes the pay cheque.

Andrew Hansard - HDC Cabinet member. Currently member on of the Eynesbury Councillors and therefore not in a safe seat

Paul Ursell - Up for election in Eynesbury in 2011. Not the best attendance record at HDC.

Barry Chapman - New boy on the block. Not in the Cabinet and not in a safe seat.

There are two other District Councillors who represent the Love's Farm part of this Town via the Gransden and The Offords Ward.

Richard West - I know little about this person. Not in the Cabinet but is in a safe seat.

Barbara Boddington - Lives in South Cambridgeshire.

None of the St Neots Councillors are really up for the job as leader.

What of the current Cabinet?

Ken Churchill - Little Paxton ward. He is also a Magistrate. Would he have the time to put into being Leader? He is in a safe seat. He is a County Councillor.

Douglas Dew - St Ives South ward. Certainly a contender.

Jonathan Gray - Kimbolton. Certainly a rising star. Certainly a contender.

Colin Hyams  - Godmanchester. Was considering resigning over the toilets. But didn't.

Deborah Reynolds - St Ives East. Currently executive member for Leisure which drains much money from dwindling reserves. Would Deborah actually defend the Leisure centres over cuts?

Terrance Rogers - Earith. Currently Executive member for Finance. Obviously in touch with the Councils' Finances. Would that work against him if he stood for leader?

Any others?

Jason Ablewhite - St Ives East - He is a contender. Safe seat.

Steve Criswell - Somersham - Safe seat. He is also a County Councillor.

In conclusion:

Out of the 35 remaining Conservative District Councillors there are a few names. These are: Ken Churchill, Douglas Dew, Jonathan Gray, Deborah Reynolds and Terrance Rogers. The outside choice has to be Jason Ablewhite.

What remains is who out of these Councillors really wants to be leader with diminishing reserves and some severe cuts to be made. Will the new leader really have the balls to hold a referendum over Council Tax?


dodgydriveruk said...

I would love to see the obnoxious Mr Ablewhite get the job....his attitude and comments alone will single handed destroy the Tory Cabal in Huntingdonshire...I guess they will go for a "safe" pair of hands at the helm... Interesting times with Mr Bates and 3 long term Council Officers going, each with decent golden handshakes...

James watson said...

I would like to rubbish the comments made by dodgydriveruk. As a resident of Hartford mariner he helped us tremedously two years ago when it looked like we would be evicted along with around 200 others. He is a strong Councillor who is not afraid to say what he thinks and we found his open honesty very refrshing when it came to dealing with this difficult situation. He chaired a working group that went on to make a number of sensible recommendations that found common ground between both parties. Without his help many of us feel that we would have been made homeless. I think he would be a great Leader and only wish that i was on the council so that I could support him.

dakerspaul said...

It wouldn't suprise me if Cllr Dew puts up for the leadership. After all, it's quite obvious that both he and his wife are on the take and this increase will no doubt pay for a few extra holidays for them, at the tax payers expense.

St Ivian said...

My recollection of the Hartford Marina saga is that HDC had little prospect of enforcing breach of planning regulations as through its own incompetence too much time had elapsed. So the outcome was certain, with granting of retrospective planning permission already a fait accompli. Mr Ablewhite was merely the one charged with the damage limitation and PR exercise, and with implementing a decision already taken by HDC. The smoke and mirrors obviously worked – but do we want an illusionist as leader ?

James watson said...

I would say to St Ivian, that he was obviously not part of the discussions that took place, so he or she is not qualified to make such comments. Retrospective planning permission was likely on a few of the House boats, but the vast majority had no protection. The recommendation from HDC was one of enforcement of a planning breach, but as no legislation was available to protect people who live on boats, we could have found ourselves homeless. It was Cllr Ablewhite who went against the officers recommendations and suggested a working group as a way forward. There was no smoke or illusion, only honesty and respect on both sides of the table. We and hundreds of residents can not thank him enough. I am not political and not alined to any political party, I am not making political statements and I suggest that those that post on here that obviuosly do, should check their facts before making comment.