Tories take over council Cabinet

NORTH Devon Councillors voted to change the political make-up of the Cabinet at a full council meeting last night (Tuesday). The old cross-party working format between Conservatives and Liberal Democrats was thrown out after a proposal to remove part of t

NORTH Devon Councillors voted to change the political make-up of the Cabinet at a full council meeting last night (Tuesday).The old cross-party working format between Conservatives and Liberal Democrats was thrown out after a proposal to remove part of the council's constitution that said the Executive had to be politically balanced, was approved by 20 votes to 17.The council voted against a similar motion put forward by the Conservatives after the 2007 elections.The new Executive comprises nine Conservatives and one Independent member - Cllr Eric Ley - as opposed to the previous make-up of seven Conservatives, three Lib Dems and one Independent member.Cllrs Malcolm Prowse, Faye Webber and Dave Butt have all lost places on the new Cabinet.Conservative Cllr Des Brailey, who last night became the new Leader of the council, cited a "growing distance" between the two majority groups as one of the main reasons for implementing the change in the council's constitution.Speaking to the Gazette this morning, he said: "As the majority group, we took the decision to work jointly with ourselves and with one Independent Executive member."During the last few weeks, we felt the Lib Dems were distancing themselves from cross-party working with our group - possibly because of the county elections coming up."They were not very helpful in the run-up to the budget and voted against us in full council, quoting a �2.2million deficit that was clearly creative accountancy."They seem hell-bent on pushing the regeneration programme to the limit. We can't keep promising things that we might not be able to deliver in the current climate."Cllr Brailey said the council needed to look more closely at its core work.He said: "It's not about a 'slash and burn' approach; this about is looking at the whole gambit and seeing where we can make the savings."He said the council had diversified from its four main priorities of good and efficient services; prosperous communities; housing; and clean and safe environments."We need to get back on track. The Executive will work more closely together in teams to drive the council's priorities forward."We have some difficult decisions to make because of the current economic climate but have brought in some very talented people who will bring worth to the Cabinet and be a breath of fresh air to the people in North Devon."Previous council leader Cllr Mike Harrison was elected as the council's deputy leader. Current chairman Cllr Roy Lucas, and vice-chairman Cllr Jasmine Chesters, will remain in their positions for another term.

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