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Tunbridge Wells Alliance Group calls for vote of no confidence in conservative council leader Alan McDermott

A council leader facing a possible vote of no confidence says launching the motion 'in the middle of the biggest health scare in a generation' is an 'outrage'.

An open letter to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) signed by opposition parties is calling for council leader Alan McDermott to step down saying they feel the pandemic has exposed weak leadership in the Tories.

Cllr Alan McDermott
Cllr Alan McDermott

The councillor pushing for the vote is David Hayward from the Tunbridge Wells Alliance Group who says he wants to see more transparency.

The Pembury ward councillor said: "Some of the committees have been suspended because of Covid-19 and we don't like that because we're not being told stuff and things are being put through without us being given a fair crack of the whip.

"We believe there should be more transparency and scrutiny.

"The current health situation has exposed weak leadership and we feel it is in danger of becoming an existential crisis which could leave residents without essential services.

"Looking ahead, when the town starts to opens up properly, there needs to be something more dynamic in place."

Cllr David Hayward
Cllr David Hayward

Cllr Alan McDermott, who was appointed leader in May last year after David Jukes lost his seat to Lucy Willis of the alliance, refutes the claims saying all members have been informed in decision making every step of the way.

He added: "I fail to understand why in the middle of the biggest health scare in a generation, the other parties (who have been informed at every turn and have been included in all decisions) dare to bring forward petty politics blaming the conservatives when they agreed to the decisions made. It always amazes me they have very little to say but can pontificate with great vigour about anything we suggest.

"Portfolio holders and officers have been talking to Locate in Kent for many months as I suspect Cllr Pound knows. They are one of many companies and businesses we have talked to about regenerating the borough of Tunbridge Wells as well the centre of the town and all comments are gratefully received.

"Finally the call of no confidence is an outrage. We have just finished improving the War Memorial and surrounds and widening the pavements to allow more people to sit outside. The Amelia Scott is taking shape all of which is part of our old five year plan soon to be updated to a new one.

"At no time has any opposition party when asked what they would like to see happen, come up with anything sensible apart from social housing which we are building through our new Local Plan. Already parts of Cllr Hayward’s reasons for a no confidence vote have been proved to not be accurate and he has apologised for his error but I doubt whether he has put that on social media."

Opposition parties have signed the open letter to the council
Opposition parties have signed the open letter to the council

The Amelia Scott, named after a suffragette from the town is, is a multi-million pound cultural regeneration project that will incorporate the museum and art gallery along with part of the library and adult education centre.

The leader's mention of Cllr Hugo Pound for Sherwood relates to a letter Cllr McDermott received from the labour party member asking the town to work more closely with Locate in Kent to bring business into the town.

Cllr Pound expressed he was unhappy with the response he received where Cllr McDermott reassured him he would 'bear that in mind".

Despite the extra pressures that come with the coronavirus, Cllr Hayward says he feels now is the right time to be having these discussions.

He added: "At this critical time of recovery we need open, honest and competent leadership, or, we fear, we will be sleep walking into becoming a failed local authority.

"Other parties may prefer to delay raising these important issues until their election campaigns next year. The alliance group thinks waiting until next year's local elections is a disservice to the residents of the borough.

"The new leader will very likely come from the majority party but needs to be someone who understands the absolute necessity for overview and scrutiny of the council's affairs and that policy and decision making should come from the elected members."

The alliance party, a group of four independent councillors, had hoped to call the vote in tonight's full council meeting but not enough notice was given.

The motion will now have to wait until the next full council meeting on Wednesday September 23 before it can be put forward.

The Alliance will have to get 16 members to sign the proposals. It then requires 66% of the members at the meeting to vote for it, something Cllr Hayward says he is confident he will get.

Read more:All the latest news from Tunbridge Wells

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