Monday 30 January 2012

Uproar at Labour's Fait Accompli

At Tuesday 24th January's RBC Council meeting there was uproar from the Conservatives and Lib Dems over the way Labour axed the Chief Executive's (CE's) post.

No evidence was provided of any meaningful assessment of the consequential risks and opportunities of their drastic action.

Since RBC is under Labour's minority control, Labour should have consulted the other parties before coming to this decision.  Instead Labour tipped off the press earlier this month after someone their side leaked the behind-closed-doors deal.  You can read the press story here - strangely there is no sign of RBC's press release on its website here which is where it should be found.

Tuesday's Council meeting was the first opportunity for Labour's Cllr Lovelock to account for her decision.  Cllr Lovelock disingenuously made out the decision was yet to be taken: this was quite ridiculous given Labour had agreed redundancy terms with Michael Coughlin, the CE already.  The deal was a fait accompli.

Labour didn't have to use their Mayor's casting vote as both Green councillors supported the axing of the CE role, as well as the 2nd in commands role: Director of Resources.

Cllr Lovelock failed to respond to my questions which were:
  1. Why has Labour deliberately chopped and destabilised the top leadership posts at this time of huge change and need for strategic leadership?
  2. Has Labour really learnt from its financial mismanagement of Section 106s?
  3. What measures has Labour put in place to prevent similar mismanagement in the future?
Michael Coughlin was selected as CE with all-party agreement in Spring 2008.  He is well-respected and has shown no political bias.  Labour's forced unscheduled announcement of his departure was disgraceful:  Neither he, nor any other Council employee, deserves this shameful treatment.

Michael Coughlin's departure is a great loss to Reading.  Amongst many achievements, he has demonstrated a commitment to transparent local government.

It is worrying to witness Labour's arrogant, undemocratic behaviour.  I hope residents will heed this and vote against Labour gaining an outright majority on the Council this May.