Wednesday, 4 June 2014

The new cabinet?

Well assuming that the assumptions made by the leaders of the Independent, Labour and Lib Dem parties are correct and they gain control on Thursday what do we make of the proposed cabinet. Well firstly I must congratulate Lib Dem Graham Longley on managing to gain appointment as one of the 2 Deputy Leaders (will they share the allowance?) and a major portfolio holder on the back of leading the local Lib Dems to something close to Armageddon. They managed to lose 3 well established councillors who all dropped down to third in the poll and retained just 1 seat. It may have been a bad night for the Tories but if anyone was rejected more dramatically it was the Lib Dems and to emerge with a reduced group of just 5 and still get a place in cabinet suggests he outmanoeuvred his new partners. It certainly confirms that this coalition does not reflect the message from the voters last month. Cllr Woodley has perhaps unsurprisingly decided to take responsibility for Corporate Services in addition to Leadership. This may reflect the need to take the slack from Messrs Gilbert & Terry (see below) but does concern me as to whether he has underestimated the extent and demands of the leaders role and in particular the need to establish a regional presence. Ian Gilbert takes responsibility for “community support” whatever that might include but assuming he is going to remain working full time it should be interesting to see how he keeps his employer happy whilst properly fulfilling the role of Deputy Leader and portfolio holder as well as being the parliamentary candidate for Southend East & Rochford. If he is able to do all of these duties fully and capably then perhaps we should rename him Cllr Clark Kent. Martin Terry is also in full time employment but steps in to a portfolio with significant day time commitments. This is of course recognised in the allowances cabinet members receive. Let’s hope he has reached a suitable arrangement with his employer. It would seem that Labour demanded 3 cabinet posts and got them which always leaves the challenge of finding suitable candidates. Anne Jones is relatively new to the council but seems a pleasant and able councillor. She takes on one of the most demanding portfolios in children and learning so good luck to her. Nobody can doubt David Norman’s obvious qualities and he will be probably the strongest and most sensible cabinet member. I would happily have had him in my cabinet! However he also takes over a monumental task in Adult Social Care, health and housing and it will be interesting to see how he deals with the physical and time demands of the job. Finally Cllr Assenheim takes on “regulatory control”. Once again not clear what this includes but it does on the face of it seem one of the lighter portfolios. He loves intervening on health and safety matters so let us hope he keeps in mind the difference between the role of members and officers. All in all an entertaining mix of personalities with the potential for some significant and divisive differences in view on a range of issues. The question may be whether David Norman can hold them together as else we may see a cabinet squabbling whilst the town goes to rack and ruin.


  1. The Liberal Democrats lost four seats: Collins, Grimwade, Lewin, and Russell.

  2. Well spotted. I probably overlooked Paul as he was clearly living on borrowed time having been elected on the Clegg bounce at the last general election. It makes Graham Longley's haul as Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder even more impressive.


  3. interesting insights Nigel.

    I didn't have the opportunity to wish you well in your "retirement". Your support to Love Southend and Southend Interfaith Working Group, while minor compared to the big picture is much appreciated.

  4. borrowed time or not but Paul made some important contributions to the homeless in the ward. I hope Kevin and Mike can follow suit.

  5. John, thank you for your kind words, although my short contributions are a mere moment compared to your dedication for homeless people.
    Nigel, it one of my regrets that I did not have a real opportunity to speak to you and congratulate you on steering the Town through tough times. We have disagreed on certain aspects on how some of the ‘adjustments’ should be undertaken, but I do not doubt your honesty and integrity in handling these difficult decisions.
    Finally, yes, I knew that I was up against it, but I decided early on to make the most of my four years and leave my mark on Westborough, which I think I did.
    I trust that you will enjoy your ‘retirement’ as I will mine, my family are certainly pleased to have me back to spend more time with them.

  6. Paul - thanks. I suspect that some in the chamber continue to fail to grasp the size of the issues we have had to face and which continue to confront the town. To protect services and attempt to stimulate investment whilst coping with reducing income but increasing demand is not easy and occaisonally unpopular decisions have to be made. Your presence in the chamber and on audit were very positive and I am in no doubt that you left your mark on Westborough.