Councillor storms out of meeting after bust-up: Southend budget meeting descends into chaos

Southend Standard: Nigel Holdcroft Nigel Holdcroft

THE meeting to set Southend Council’s £419million budget descended into chaos after the leader claimed he “sold” a senior position to his rival.

Ron Woodley, Independent councillor for Thorpe, demanded an apology, refused to sit down then stormed out of the chamber after council leader Nigel Holdcroft alleged he “bought” the chairmanship of a key committee.

Referring to Mr Woodley’s criticism that interest on borrowing agreed in previous budgets was now affecting the authority’s spending power, Mr Holdcroft said: “I suppose that would include the year he supported our budget because he bought a chair of scrutiny in exchange, but no doubt that was far more important than the best interests of the budget.”

The Independent, who denies he “bought” the chairmanship, demanded an apology.

When mayor Brian Kelly, who was chairing the meeting on Thursday, declined to invite Mr Holdcroft to apologise, Mr Woodley refused to take his seat.

After standing for about five minutes as the meeting continued, Mr Woodley started turning on his microphone to prevent other members using theirs, until town clerk Rob Tinlin warned the Independent he was breaching council rules.

The Thorpe ward representative, who is expected to contest the leadership again after Mr Holdcroft steps down in May, stormed out and threatened to report the Conservative leader to the council’s standards committee.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Woodley said: “To state he bought my vote and my support is totally inaccurate.

“He won’t be able to buy my support.”

In 2012 Mr Woodley and fellow Thorpe councillors Mike Stafford and Alex Kaye publicly agreed to back Conservative budgets in return for the appointment of opposition members to key positions and the Tories blocking new parking charges in the ward.

Mr Holdcroft claims Mr Woodley asked to be chairman of the then economic and environmental scrutiny committee as part of the deal.

But Mr Woodley, who voted for the Tory budget on Thursday evening, claims Mr Holdcroft invited him to take the role.

A video of the meeting can be viewed at www.southend.gov.uk

 

SOUTHEND Council passed the Tory group’s £419million spending plans for the coming year after no opposition group put forward an alternative budget on Thursday night.

Leader Nigel Holdcroft, who will step down in May, taunted his opponents by saying they could vote against his budget as the Tories were in a minority that night.

But as no alternative budget was on the table, a new council meeting would have to be called, delaying the release of council tax letters and costing the authority an estimate £200,000.

Mr Holdcroft said: “There is an obligation on every member of this council to pass a budget.

“If you don’t want to pass this one, you should have proposed something else.”

Council tax, parking fees and leisure charges will be frozen, but council rent will rise by £4.54.

The equivalent of 49.5 fulltime posts will go, as the authority suffers a £7.6million drop in Government grants.

A total of £60million of new spending on projects is planned over the next four years, including £10million for the airport business park, £2.5million for low energy street lights an £8million to buy and demolish offices in Victoria Avenue.

Comments (11)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

8:10am Tue 4 Mar 14

supermadmax says...

Wow, and we let these people be in charge of a £419million budget.
Wow, and we let these people be in charge of a £419million budget. supermadmax
  • Score: 27

8:18am Tue 4 Mar 14

Kim Gandy says...

The problem is, the Standards Board has no teeth nowadays.

All that happens is that bad behaviour is reported in the papers.

It's down to the voting public to decide who will take charge of the budget after May.

No good moaning about it here unless you are prepared to monitor your politicians.

The responsibility of the voter does not end at the ballot box. These people are public EMPLOYEES, servants even... it's down to us to make sure they do their job properly.

All well and good to comment on here.. what's need is more public attending meetings to see how their money is being spent.
The problem is, the Standards Board has no teeth nowadays. All that happens is that bad behaviour is reported in the papers. It's down to the voting public to decide who will take charge of the budget after May. No good moaning about it here unless you are prepared to monitor your politicians. The responsibility of the voter does not end at the ballot box. These people are public EMPLOYEES, servants even... it's down to us to make sure they do their job properly. All well and good to comment on here.. what's need is more public attending meetings to see how their money is being spent. Kim Gandy
  • Score: 21

9:53am Tue 4 Mar 14

jayman says...

If Nigel Holdcroft's accusations are true. Then why did Nigel and the Tories 'sell' a seat on the committee? surely this is a sellers market. It brings a lot of Tory council approved appointments in to question and unsurprisingly, brings the local Tory party into disrepute. I wonder what goes on behind them blue doors. donkeys to put rosettes on and horses to trade.
If Nigel Holdcroft's accusations are true. Then why did Nigel and the Tories 'sell' a seat on the committee? surely this is a sellers market. It brings a lot of Tory council approved appointments in to question and unsurprisingly, brings the local Tory party into disrepute. I wonder what goes on behind them blue doors. donkeys to put rosettes on and horses to trade. jayman
  • Score: 24

11:06am Tue 4 Mar 14

DogsMessInLeigh says...

Spat his dummy out and threw his toys out of the pram, great story...guess we all do it.
Spat his dummy out and threw his toys out of the pram, great story...guess we all do it. DogsMessInLeigh
  • Score: 1

11:22am Tue 4 Mar 14

Rochford Richard says...

This is the link to the webcast:

http://www.southend.
public-i.tv/core/por
tal/webcast_interact
ive/128954

The excitement starts at 3:36:09

Unsurprisingly not as chaotic as the Echo would have us believe.
This is the link to the webcast: http://www.southend. public-i.tv/core/por tal/webcast_interact ive/128954 The excitement starts at 3:36:09 Unsurprisingly not as chaotic as the Echo would have us believe. Rochford Richard
  • Score: 1

1:33pm Tue 4 Mar 14

Matthew S. Dent says...

So the difference between an Independent Party councillor and a Tory Party councillor is what, exactly? Either way, Southend just gets more of the same.
So the difference between an Independent Party councillor and a Tory Party councillor is what, exactly? Either way, Southend just gets more of the same. Matthew S. Dent
  • Score: 17

3:02pm Tue 4 Mar 14

Joe Clark says...

Independent: not relying on another or others for aid or support, not subject to another's authority, singular, solo, speaks for oneself, not in a group.

Group: any collection or assemblage of persons who have a similar goal or out look, more than one.

I can't understand if they are "independent" why is there a spokesperson should they all not speak for themselves and not through one person, this surely is the same as a whip as used by the big political parties.
Independent: not relying on another or others for aid or support, not subject to another's authority, singular, solo, speaks for oneself, not in a group. Group: any collection or assemblage of persons who have a similar goal or out look, more than one. I can't understand if they are "independent" why is there a spokesperson should they all not speak for themselves and not through one person, this surely is the same as a whip as used by the big political parties. Joe Clark
  • Score: 11

4:00pm Tue 4 Mar 14

leavingonajetplane says...

So, how is buying a vote something new in British politics lol. I have lived in Southend for over a decade now and the same political class has ran the city/borough in all that time. Normal people don't have the time or funding to do anything about it, so swag around simply doing politics like these power hungry people do. Looking forward to jumping off this sinking ship next year!
So, how is buying a vote something new in British politics lol. I have lived in Southend for over a decade now and the same political class has ran the city/borough in all that time. Normal people don't have the time or funding to do anything about it, so swag around simply doing politics like these power hungry people do. Looking forward to jumping off this sinking ship next year! leavingonajetplane
  • Score: 3

4:19pm Tue 4 Mar 14

Matthew S. Dent says...

Joe Clark wrote:
Independent: not relying on another or others for aid or support, not subject to another's authority, singular, solo, speaks for oneself, not in a group.

Group: any collection or assemblage of persons who have a similar goal or out look, more than one.

I can't understand if they are "independent" why is there a spokesperson should they all not speak for themselves and not through one person, this surely is the same as a whip as used by the big political parties.
Ah, but don't forget that the spokesman (read: leader) gets an opposition leader's salary on top of their councillor's allowance.
[quote][p][bold]Joe Clark[/bold] wrote: Independent: not relying on another or others for aid or support, not subject to another's authority, singular, solo, speaks for oneself, not in a group. Group: any collection or assemblage of persons who have a similar goal or out look, more than one. I can't understand if they are "independent" why is there a spokesperson should they all not speak for themselves and not through one person, this surely is the same as a whip as used by the big political parties.[/p][/quote]Ah, but don't forget that the spokesman (read: leader) gets an opposition leader's salary on top of their councillor's allowance. Matthew S. Dent
  • Score: 1

7:16pm Tue 4 Mar 14

jolllyboy says...

Is thi showing Nigel Holdcrofts true nature now that he rubbishes someone (probably trying to axe his chance of going for the leadership) . I guess he can say anything now that e is leaving. Meantime social housing (the least able to afford it) rents go up whilst everything else stays the same. Gosh who thought of that one - only someone not short of a bob or two. Yet aims to spend 60m of our money on other things - not libraries not care homes not child care - ie nothing that would benefit a lot of people.
Is thi showing Nigel Holdcrofts true nature now that he rubbishes someone (probably trying to axe his chance of going for the leadership) . I guess he can say anything now that e is leaving. Meantime social housing (the least able to afford it) rents go up whilst everything else stays the same. Gosh who thought of that one - only someone not short of a bob or two. Yet aims to spend 60m of our money on other things - not libraries not care homes not child care - ie nothing that would benefit a lot of people. jolllyboy
  • Score: 3

9:10pm Tue 4 Mar 14

joe2345 says...

Kim Gandy wrote:
The problem is, the Standards Board has no teeth nowadays.

All that happens is that bad behaviour is reported in the papers.

It's down to the voting public to decide who will take charge of the budget after May.

No good moaning about it here unless you are prepared to monitor your politicians.

The responsibility of the voter does not end at the ballot box. These people are public EMPLOYEES, servants even... it's down to us to make sure they do their job properly.

All well and good to comment on here.. what's need is more public attending meetings to see how their money is being spent.
Unfortuately, I doubt most of the public have time to attend meetings. After work, most people bearly get an hour or so to check the news - And when they do, they find they can't keep up with everything the government is doing - Just look at what's been happening our NHS records - The government sneaked in a law which weakened data protection, then by default opted us all in to selling our personal data to advertisers and miltary contractors.

In all areas of government things are happening and it's hard for the average joe to keep up - And what about the Local plans???
These affect our future and the future of our children. They have been years in the making, with contractors drawing up evidence (which they do for a living), yet we the people have *6 weeks* to raise comments. This is hardly fair - we have *6 weeks* to look at thousands of pages of evidence and plans, yet the council is allowed *2 years* to create the plan and gets help from private companies.

We are playing a game, and it's certainly not weighted in our favour.
[quote][p][bold]Kim Gandy[/bold] wrote: The problem is, the Standards Board has no teeth nowadays. All that happens is that bad behaviour is reported in the papers. It's down to the voting public to decide who will take charge of the budget after May. No good moaning about it here unless you are prepared to monitor your politicians. The responsibility of the voter does not end at the ballot box. These people are public EMPLOYEES, servants even... it's down to us to make sure they do their job properly. All well and good to comment on here.. what's need is more public attending meetings to see how their money is being spent.[/p][/quote]Unfortuately, I doubt most of the public have time to attend meetings. After work, most people bearly get an hour or so to check the news - And when they do, they find they can't keep up with everything the government is doing - Just look at what's been happening our NHS records - The government sneaked in a law which weakened data protection, then by default opted us all in to selling our personal data to advertisers and miltary contractors. In all areas of government things are happening and it's hard for the average joe to keep up - And what about the Local plans??? These affect our future and the future of our children. They have been years in the making, with contractors drawing up evidence (which they do for a living), yet we the people have *6 weeks* to raise comments. This is hardly fair - we have *6 weeks* to look at thousands of pages of evidence and plans, yet the council is allowed *2 years* to create the plan and gets help from private companies. We are playing a game, and it's certainly not weighted in our favour. joe2345
  • Score: 3

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree