Second vote of no confidence in Scarborough Council leader Steve Siddons, who says it is a 'power grab'

The leader of Scarborough Council is to face a fresh vote of no confidence, 12 months after he survived an attempt to remove him as head of the authority.

Wednesday, 20th January 2021, 6:55 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th January 2021, 6:58 pm

Five independent councillors have signed the motion against Cllr Steve Siddons, the Labour leader of Scarborough Council.

It will be the second motion of no confidence faced by Cllr Siddons and his cabinet, following a failed challenge in January last year which the leader won by 26 votes to 16.

A meeting of the full council will take place on Thursday January 28 where a debate and vote will be held.

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Cllr Steve Siddons: Was there really a need to try and cause a political crisis at this time?"

The motion, like the previous no confidence challenge, has been brought by Cllr Bill Chatt, a cabinet member under the previous Conservative regime and now part of the Cluster of Independent Members (CIM) group.

The motion is also backed by Cllr Mike Cockerill, leader of the CIM, and Yorkshire Coast Independents Alliance leader Cllr Neil Heritage along with his fellow group members Sam Cross and Guy Smith.

Cllr Chatt declined to comment on the reasons for his motion when asked by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, saying only: “The call in is from the independents. That’s important.”

Cllr Siddons said he believed the councillors’ actions were based on “their perception that they are not involved in decision sharing” and called it a “power grab”.

He added: “What I find appalling is that amid a crisis nationally and globally and with families and residents every day concerned about their health, perhaps mourning the loss of loved ones, worrying about their ability to put food on the table, the economic instability and the education of their families, we see councillors indulging in game playing and naked attempts at a power grab.

“Was there really a need to try and cause a political crisis at this time?

“This coalition council is making real progress: affordable homes for rent, securing inward, private investment to ensure long term security for residents, and the production of a blueprint for the borough.

“In spite of the challenges caused by Covid, we are moving ahead with plans for the future and tackling real issues, not perceived ones.

“We recently undertook a massive public consultation in this borough. The people spoke and we listened and acted accordingly. Nowhere did the residents say, waste time, money and effort on game playing.

“This motion is founded on resentment and naked ambition, and history – both latter day and modern - shows us that it produces leaders who are neither stable nor motivated by the public good.

“I call on all councillors to let this administration get on with the job that we were elected to do – ridding us of this ‘Low pay capital of the UK’ name tag, creating a better, cleaner borough with improved life chances for all.

“The borough residents deserve a cohesive council, with councillors in touch with reality, pulling together to build that better borough.”

The 13-strong Labour Group has been running the 46-member council with the support of the Independent Group councillors since May 2019.

However, a number of recent resignations from parties and groups has shaken up the political balance of the council.

Over Christmas and New Year three councillors left the Independent Group.

Guy Smith, Roxanne Murphy and Eileen Murphy have all since joined the Yorkshire Coast Independents Alliance (YCIA).

Cllr John Atkinson, previously of no political affiliation also joined Cluster of Independent Members at the end of last year.

This week, it was confirmed that long-serving Conservative Jane Mortimer had resigned from the group.

It means that Labour and the Conservatives now both have 13 seats, followed by the Independent Group with seven, the YCIA has five, the Cluster of Independent Members has four and the Green Party two.

Cllr Mortimer is now listed as having no political affiliation along with Cllr Helen Mallory, who left the Conservative Group herself last year.

A majority of councillors present will be needed to vote to remove the leader and his administration.

Convention dictates that a leader who loses a no confidence motion resigns immediately and a vote for a new leader takes place.