Posted: 10.09.19 at 15:29 by Joseph Bulmer
East Devon District Council is in political deadlock after the dramatic resignation of one of the ruling independent group’s councillors.
Former Independent Group councillor Paul Millar, who represents Exmouth Halsdon, resigned today, accusing the district council leadership team of keeping him in the dark on important policy issues.
The council is now deadlocked with 19 Independent councillors and 19 Conservative councillors.
Despite this the council’s leader, councillor Ben Ingham, has said that, ‘it is business as usual for East Devon’.
Nub News contacted Paul Millar and asked him to explain his reasons for resigning, he said: “My experience was that in my four months in the Cabinet I wasn’t asked what I thought about anything, I wasn’t briefed, given options with which to make informed decisions, and attempts to have any influence over my portfolio proved to be impossible.
“In my first week, an email was sent out to colleagues “on my behalf” without me having the opportunity to sign it off or influence its contents. This really upset me because it suggested to colleagues I had formed a particular view on a subject that I hadn’t.
“Being new to local government, I would have appreciated more support and, ultimately, I came to the sad conclusion that some in the Senior Management Team simply don’t trust Councillors to make the decisions the people elected us to make.
He added: “I do respect that others may view things in a different way, but I guess I just wanted to be honest and I’ve been humbled by the number of colleagues across parties who’ve agreed with my sentiments.”
Councillor Ben Ingham, leader of East Devon District Council, has responded to councillor Millar’s resignation stating, ‘it is business as usual for East Devon. He said: “It is very unfortunate when individuals resort to personal and unfounded comments. Such attacks do not help us advance understanding of the work carried out by East Devon District Council’s officers and councillors and their respective roles and responsibilities as detailed in the Council’s Constitution. Rather, they confuse, contribute to rumours and create more harm.
“However, I am confident that the council offered councillor Millar a high level of support and assistance to help him try to adjust to the demands of being a portfolio holder, and I thank him for his contribution. On behalf of the council I am very grateful for the work that councillor Millar has carried out since his election and appointment to the Cabinet and wish him well for the future. Looking forwards, though, it is business as usual for East Devon.”
Nub News was contacted by East Devon councillor and chairman of the East Devon Conservative Association, Bruce de Saram, he had this to say: “Clearly Paul Millar doesn’t yet fully grasp the difference between strategic and operational roles on a council, which I find puzzling, given his previous role as an advisor to a Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson; you might have thought he would understand something of the democratic process and the slow pace of it at times.
“There is huge democratic input and the officers at EDDC do an excellent job on behalf of all residents of East Devon in what is a very challenging work environment. It is hugely unfair and inappropriate to criticise them when they have no right of reply; councillor Millar needs to understand that ‘changing the world’ takes more than three months.”
However in conclusion Councillor de Saram sincerely wished Councillor Millar well and said he looks forward to seeing him at future meetings as a “genuine independent”.