Leader of the Conservative group Cllr Derek Bastiman has set up his shadow cabinet to reflect the Labour and Independent administration’s set-up, with six cabinet members under the leader.
Cllr Bastiman had previously asked his fellow group leaders to set up a “rainbow coalition” of all parties to run the council during the pandemic crisis. The idea was rejected by the ruling groups.
Cllr Bastiman, himself a former leader of the council said the shadow cabinet would meet with council officers and scrutinise decisions.
He said: “As we move into the new economic reality that will be our borough after Covid-19 we need to ensure the multi-million-pound decisions being made in our name are the correct ones.
“What was possible in 2019 may need to be revised and reimagined as we try to rejuvenate all the different areas of our borough.
“Every member needs to have the chance to question the administration, this has been missing since February with the leader similarly being absent during this crisis.
“Democracy has been sidelined and we seek to address this by forming an official opposition from within the largest group on the council.”
Cllr Bastiman also said he regretted that his rainbow coalition offer had not been accepted by the council’s Labour leader, Cllr Steve Siddons.
He added: “My intention was to offer the talents within our group to help in the current crisis, the electorate didn’t choose to have a Labour-led council, they did choose to have a broad spectrum of elected members to represent them.”
Council leader Cllr Steve Siddons said he welcomed the decision by the Conservatives.
He added: “I fully agree that every member should have their say.
“That’s why I, when we were in opposition, lobbied for a more robust Scrutiny Committee function to be implemented.
“I have also insisted that, in spite of the current pandemic lock-down, Cabinet continues to be held virtually and online with the opportunity for Members to ask questions.
“I welcome the Conservative group’s decision to set up a shadow cabinet. After all, it’s a system we used when we were in opposition.”
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