Frayed tempers as County Council leader survives vote of no confidence


Chair shouts “sit down” at Councillor Andrew Gant when he refused to follow her instructions

A motion of no confidence in Oxfordshire County Council Liberal Democrat Leader, Liz Leffman, has been defeated at a full meeting of the council today (Tuesday).

The motion was put forward by the leader of the Labour group, Councillor Liz Brighouse, who until last summer was the deputy leader of the Council in an alliance between the Lib Dems, Labour and Greens.

In what turned into a very heated debate Councillor Brighouse introduced her motion saying it wasn’t aimed directly at Councillor Leffman but at her leadership team, and issues that had arisen in a number of areas.   These included the county’s provision for children with Special Education Needs and Disabilities and Oxford United’s use of the land at the Triangle in Kidlington.

But in response Councillor Leffman refuted that and said it was clear the motion was aimed at her and came as a result of Councillor Brighouse being asked to step aside from overseeing the SEND service during their time together in coalition, following a damning report on the service.

Councillor Leffman said: “You stormed out of my office, into the members area and accosted another Member of this Council and yelled at them.    And then you went into the chief executive’s office and yelled at him.”

Conservative Ian Corkin noted the irony of Councillor Brighouse bringing forward the motion when she had been part of the leadership responsible for county council business until last summer.

He said: “Councillor Brighouse bringing this motion is like an arsonist complaining about the size of the blaze.   Councillor Brighouse was the ‘enabler-in-chief’ of all of this, with all of the worst excesses dating back to when she sat on the benches opposite.”

When Chair Councillor Alison Rooke tried to bring the debate to a close a number of speakers declared a keenness to speak.   Amongst them was Labour Councillor Imade Edosomwam who said he had misgivings about how Councillor Leffman had run her team.   He accused Councillor Andrew Gant of speaking to residents in a “condescending” and “arrogant” way.

Councillor Gant was incensed by the comment.  

“Can I ask if he has actually emailed me once about transport policy,” he said.   “Answer is no he hasn’t.”

The Chair asked Councillor Gant to stop but he ignored her pleas until she shouted at him “sit down”.

Councillor Brighouse concluded the debate saying she felt “slandered” by some of the Lib Dem Councillors.

“I will not be vilified in the way, or victimised in the way, that this romp cabinet actually has tried to do this afternoon,” she said.   “I am appalled, absolutely appalled, at the attitude they’ve taken and it shows so well that actually they’re not fit for office.”

The motion of no confidence in Councillor Leffman was defeated with 12 for, 19 against and 16 abstentions.

Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam

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