SW&T leadership challenge

At the start of the day, the big meeting in Somerset looked like it would be at Somerset West & Taunton. We imagined it would be all about whether the council wanted to vote on holding a poll of residents. In the end, just as at Mendip and South Somerset, this proved to be a damp squib. All councils are taking the same line. They will seek legal advice from a Queen’s Counsel. More expense for the hapless taxpayer. This time the districts will claim, with some justification, the costs have been caused by the Secretary of State. He will argue if the districts hadn’t gone for a poll in the first place etc etc. We know all the arguments

So in the end the 4pm meeting of SW&T wasn’t much to write about. Home or anywhere else. But while the non event was unfolding, other moves were afoot.

Just a couple of hours later, the ruling LibDem Group held a meeting where a leadership challenge was mounted. The aim being to unseat current Leader Federica Smith Roberts. She has barely been in post for two years and the authority has, in that time, looked to be well run. She appears to have a good team around her. The old days of Taunton Deane Borough Council seemed long ago.

But the internecine squabbling is still very much with us.

Nor was the move to get rid of Cllr Smith Roberts completely unexpected. As The Leveller® reported last month, a petition was briefly mounted challenging the leadership on website 38 Degrees. That vanished quickly without seemingly attracting much support. But rumblings have continued within the LibDem group.

This evening the LibDem councillors held a vote to determine whether Cllr Smith Roberts continue as Leader or not. Cllr Simon Coles was put forward as an alternative Leader.

In the end the vote was tied between Cllr Coles and Cllr Smith Roberts. Cllr Coles then stood aside to allow the incumbent Leader to continue.

So no change in the end. But will this draw a line under the unrest? Or will another attempted coup emerge in a few months time?


  • Mary-Clare Rodwell

    I will follow your coverage with interest

    • The LibDems are an absolute joke at present Andrew. I see the latest leaflet making it rounds in Yeovil (despite there being a ban on campaigning for today due HRH Prince Phillips funeral) The leaflet notes that the LibDems are giving a referendum on Unitary (even though they’re not offering a referendum) and that County are pushing ahead with reorganisation in the pandemic (even though the LibDems are doing the same)

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