SSDC Confidence in Leader
The Monday meeting of South Somerset District Council (SSDC) ended with a vote of no confidence in the Leader. The vote was duly lost with councillors all voting along party political lines. There were 8 votes in favour of the motion of no confidence, 30 against and 1 abstention. The Leveller® watched the events unfold via the SSDC YouTube channel.
Things started off in good order. The motion was called by Martin Wale. He was asked to speak to the motion. Tony Capozzoli seconded the motion. Then as was quite proper, the Leader, Val Keitch was given the chance to respond. What happened from then on did not, to these eyes, cover the council with glory.
Before going into the detail we should note that what follows would make no difference to the outcome. The vote was along party lines and the Libdems have a very large majority.
The chair indicated that time was short and that he would restrict the number of speakers. The only people called on to speak were LibDems, including two cabinet members, and three independents (one a former LibDem). No Conservatives were allowed to speak (excepting Cllr Wale who had proposed the motion).
Then on two occasions, LibDem councillors made specific allegations against former Cllr Vijeh, who was not present. A very specific slur was made by Cabinet Member Peter Seib. Ordinarily the councillors should have been called to order. It is not good form to make accusations against a person not able to defend themselves.
The Chair asked Cllr Wale if he knew of any opposition members who had “availed themselves of services from Street Scene either past of present.” In other words who had taken advantage of the sort of practice highlighted in the investigations into corruption at SSDC. Where council staff were working outside (or inside) of council hours for cash in hand. It was an oddly biased question. The Chair showed no interest in knowing if any of the LibDem group had availed themselves of the same services.
Cllr Wale noted that he had seen all the paperwork and was familiar with all the names listed. He offered to name them all. Which would of course include all the LibDem members named in the papers as well as Conservatives. The chair responded very hurriedly “I think we’ll just move on from that.”
Cllr Sue Osborne asked to speak to defend the accusations that had been made against Linda Vijeh. Instead she was told by the chair that she had not been called to speak and would not be allowed to.
The chair then took the decision to call a named and recorded vote. This too is not usual. Ordinarily councillors (at least two) must ask for a named vote. It is unusual for the chair to dictate a named vote without one being called for.
So Leader Val Keitch is still Leader and will barring unforeseen circumstances, be until the end of the council.
For those who would like to see and hear what I actually said, follow https://youtu.be/W3szwLNFU30?t=10117
If a councillor is named in a debate, they have the automatic right to reply. I would assume that, even in their absence, another councillor could invoke the rule. This episode is an appalling indictment of the South Somerset District Council.
Martin, you can see and hear a video of what I actually said at the link above. The editorial above twists that and calls it a “slur” insinuating that it is not true. This is a first hand account, the facts are not disputed and there is interview evidence supporting what I said which is in the investigation pack supplied to the police. As the former councillor was interviewed and wasn’t a liar, I suspect her interview (which I haven’t seen) would confirm what I said.
I now see that Linda Vijeh has confirmed her use of SSDC staff. Apparently Council employees travelled to her French cottage and did the work for no charge, which seems incredible to me.
Peter – you are entitled to your opinion, but your definition of the word slur and mine are different. The word has, IMHO nothing to do with truth or untruth. It is “an insinuation or allegation about someone that is likely to insult them or damage their an insinuation or allegation about someone that is likely to insult them or damage their reputation.” Which was precisely the tenor of your speech. It is not a distortion of what you said but an accurate depiction.
Andrew – I appreciate your reply but can’t help suggesting that you measure yourself in the same way. On this definition, many articles under your byline “slur” elected members.
So, we have examples of the two leading political parties apparently acting with impunity with regard to public standards? Something is clearly rotten in the state of South Somerset.
Those South Somerset LibDems eh? I find it very worrying that staff feel themselves obliged to work for senior management either for free or for cash. This is all sounding like one of those places where the same party has been in charge for too long. It seems to have turned into a series of feudal fiefdoms with no possibility of democratic challenge or scrutiny. What next – Droit de Seigneur?