Scarborough Council’s new cabinet structure has been announced during a heated meeting of the authority today.
Labour council leader, Cllr Steve Siddons, outlined his new, streamlined cabinet members as members clashed over expenses and appointments to other committees.
Labour’s Tony Randerson and Liz Colling, along with Janet Jefferson from the council’s Independent Group, have been appointed to the three-person cabinet.
It is a reduction from eight cabinet members in the previous administration and the three will mirror the responsibilities of the authority’s directors, Lisa Dixon, Richard Bradley and Nick Edwards.
Speaking at the meeting, leader Cllr Siddons said legislation and the council’s constitution meant that the cabinet system of governance could not be abolished at this time.
He added: “Today is about modernisation and change. The electorate voted for change. My cabinet will have the task of introducing a modern committee system.”
Cllr Siddons said a “partnership agreement” had been made between the 10-councillor Independent Group and the 13-councillor Labour Group, which had led to Cllr Jefferson’s appointment.
He added: “The new system demands hard work and commitment from every councillor but that is why you stood for council in the first place.”
He also announced a crackdown on what he termed “unreasonable” expense claims from councillors for work that was not linked directly to the operation of the council.
Cllr Siddons added: “I intend to make sure councillors’ travel expenses are reasonable and proportional.”
The leader then announced he was asking for a delay until May 30 to make appointments to the council’s other committees.
Former cabinet member Cllr Bill Chatt (independent), who had earlier promised to “throw in hand grenades” to disrupt the new leader’s plans, as well as calling into question Cllr Siddons’ attendance record, seized the chance to question how a delay was cost-effective.
He said: “We were going to cut down on unnecessary travel and the first thing the new leader announces is that we are going to have another council meeting. How much does it cost for all of us to come here and do this? Already we are falling over our own feet.”
The plans were thrown into further doubt when Cllr Mike Cockerill (ind), another former cabinet member, pointed out that the proposed meeting date of May 30 would go against the council’s constitution which set out a time frame for committees to be appointed and that date would pass on May 28. After taking legal advice, chief executive Jim Dillon said a new date would be found.
The decision on whether to delay the appointments had to be made by outgoing Mayor Cllr Joe Plant, who did not stand for re-election earlier this month. He granted the extension citing the difficulty of incorporating 20 new councillors onto the authority.