BREAKING: ‘Game playing’ forces Sidmouth’s Stuart Hughes to resign as district council chairman

  Posted: 01.06.20 at 12:10 by Joseph Bulmer

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Sidmouth county and district councillor Stuart Hughes has resigned from his role as East Devon District Council Chairman this morning blaming his departure on ‘game playing by some members of the council’.

Mr Hughes has resigned from the role of Chairman with immediate effect, calling attempts to blame him for the abandonment of an extraordinary meeting of the council on May 27 the ‘final straw’.

The Chairman of East Devon is the Civic Head of the Council and is not a political role.

Last week the council came under new leadership following the resignation of former leader councillor Ben Ingham and his cabinet.

The 60-strong council is now being run by an administration of 31 councillors from both the Democratic Alliance and the Independent Progressive Group, led by councillor Paul Arnott.

In his resignation letter Mr Hughes warns that council tax may rise, ‘as the new administration fails to balance ambition with reality’.

Here’s the letter Mr Hughes wrote to EDDC CEO Mark Williams: “I have very much enjoyed my second term as Chairman of EDDC, together with the support of the very professional officers at the council and most members from a variety of political persuasions.

“Unfortunately, continual posturing and ‘game playing’ by some members of the council on a daily basis during the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in chaos and confusion because of petty rivalries between the EDA and various Independent members of the council. This has seriously undermined the integrity and day to day work of the council and my role as Chairman. The party leader of the East Devon Alliance and the new “Democratic Alliance” aggressively saying I am responsible for
the abandonment of the Extraordinary meeting of EDDC on the 27th of May is the final straw.

“At this time all our efforts should be solely focused on how we can all help reduce the impact of the virus in East Devon whilst protecting our economy, not playing politics between various parties and independent groups to temporarily satisfy a small clique’s personal ambitions.

“There is no obvious and clear strategy from the Democratic Alliance (including what is left of the Lib Dems and a mixed bag of others) and the new Independent grouping, other than pipe dreams. I’ve seen no evidence of how changes to plans or services might be costed, and fear council tax will rise across East Devon as the new administration fails to balance ambition with reality. They also need to recognise that £72m has been given to EDDC by the Conservative government to help hundreds of individuals and businesses throughout the pandemic.

“I have no wish to continue or be considered for a second term of office as Civic Head of a Council seemingly set on a deliberate downward spiral. This is despite the former Conservative administration at EDDC leaving office with a set of balanced books and ‘Money in the Bank’ at the start of the new council in 2019. Like many other councillors and members of the public, I remain totally in the dark as to how the latest version of a coalition of so called Independents and others will deal with old and new challenges facing the Council, on top of the added burden of COVID-19
on services to residents of East Devon.

“For these reasons, I cannot support an administration with no relevant experience, proven skills or clear and obvious plan. I therefore resign my role as Chairman of EDDC with immediate effect.”

Nub News has contacted the Democratic Alliance for a response to Mr Hughes’ resignation.

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