New leader tells opposition they’re no longer wanted on council’s top committee

Tory members of Hastings Borough Council’s (HBC) cabinet have been told today they are being kicked off the powerful decision making body.

In a move that has clearly come from the top Councillor Kim Forward, who was elected council leader in March, is showing that she’s not afraid to make changes.

Councillor Rob Lee has been told he is out of the council’s cabinet.

Ms Forward ordered the removal of the Conservative councillors Rob Lee and Andrew Patmore from the cabinet earlier today, just hours before the group was due to meet.

Mr Lee who is leader of the eight strong Conservative group on HBC told Hastings In Focus: “It is a great shame that the Leader of the Council has made has made this decision to deny a voice to Conservative voters all over the town.

“No real reason has been given for the move and it will stifle debate. This is proof that Councillor Forward is not interested in hearing alternative points of view.”

He added: “Previous Labour leaders have seen the importance of consulting with opposition parties instead of listening only to voices that agree with them.

Councillor Andrew Patmore has been told his services on cabinet are no longer required.

“Over the last few years the Conservatives have been proved right on many issues locally including the recently aborted plans to put solar panels on the Country Park which was very embarrassing to the Labour leadership.

“The fear of effective Conservative opposition has proved too much for Ms Forward who does not dare to face challenging questions from outside the Labour Party.”

Mr Lee says the Labour run HBC has been under fire for a series of controversial decisions and the Conservatives are concerned about what will happen without them on the cabinet.

“Over the last few years this council has made a string of poor decisions from closing down the town centre toilets, failed solar schemes and huge borrowing to fund the unwise purchase of commercial property. The Conservatives have been against these failed schemes and it seems that Labour no longer want to hear the dissenting voices of reason.”

We have contacted Ms Forward for her comment and to say why she chose to make such a fundamental change.

What are your thoughts on this story? Tell us in the comments section below.

11 thoughts on “New leader tells opposition they’re no longer wanted on council’s top committee

  1. It is I’m afraid more of the lefts continuing isolation in their ideas as did their methods of last year, it’s looking a lot like communism to me

    1. ‘communism’ may be a little strong Richard … but I do see a vague parallel with what ‘the right’ are doing in The U.S. … ‘my way or the highway’ …

  2. We’ve all had enough of Tories let’s have decisions made by people for the people. Well done Kim.

  3. “not interested in hearing alternative points of view.” – I can’t help finding Lee’s comment to be deeply ironic after being blocked by him on twitter for asking a perfectly reasonable question……..

  4. I would hope that when the public have chance to vote again that is the way to show these people what we think so please if you feel that strong then use your vote.

  5. Not sure I approve the cabinet system of council but one thing I do know – it’s not an ideas-gathering arena, it’s a place to get things done. Councillors go to full council, hear views from all elected members there, then make the decisions in cabinet. Makes sense.

  6. As an ex-Hastings Cllr including Vice-Chair of the Scrutiny Committee and a local government professional for over 30 years I can confirm that most councils including the others in East Sussex area do not have opposition Cllrs on Cabinet. That includes the 4 years of Conservative majority here a few years ago when the Conservatives would not allow Labour Cabinet members, despite the much narrower gap in numbers between the two groups then than now.
    When local government law was changed a few years ago by the Blair government to move from the Committee system to largely Cabinets or Elected Mayor’s, it stipulated that the Scrutiny function had to be created to be a check and balance of the Executive, like parliamentary committees scrutinising the various ministers and their government Depts .
    Hastings like other councils also has a Scrutiny Committee which examines the work of the Council and other things affecting the lives of our residents and an Audit Committee which scrutinises financial management by the Council. In addition of course scrutiny of decisions also takes place at Full Council where any Cllr can comment and vote at the time of discussing and taking decisions.
    The political balance/numbers on the non-Cabinet committees is calculated neutrally by Council Officers based on the numbers of each political group at any given time. All these decisions are within the Council’s Constitution which in turn has to be in line with the Local Government and other Acts of Parliament.

  7. The third line in my previous comment should have read “most councils (apart from no-overall control or coalitions) including the others in East Sussex area do not have opposition Cllrs on Cabinet.”

  8. I note the ex-councillor’s comments that other councils have excluded opposition councillors on their Cabinet. And how the Tories have done the same in the past. So according to him this is all acceptable and we the public should not be raising issue about it.
    What ever party enacts this exclusion of the opposition on its main committee Mr Howard, is in my way of looking at transparency and democracy out of order.
    It stinks to a “Totalitarian” set up.
    I expect the reason for this is attributable to the Tories voicing their opinion on the millions spent on “property shopping” and the bizarre idea to put a massive solar farm in the Country Park. Not forgetting of course how the past leader Peter Chowney lost his bid to be an MP by a long shot. Though of course they would not say these are the reasons – would they.
    And by the way I am no Tory supporter just an individual who can see control from one governing party is unhealthy and undemocratic

  9. I think bearing in mind we elected a conservative MP, to totally shut out conservative councillors would not be representative of the town, but by that token neither should other parties be shut out when they have significant representation.

    1. If we had PR for council elections in England then there would be far fewer one party run councils which would expand democracy

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