October 30 2014 Latest news:
Story by: JOHN ELWORTHY
Friday, August 29, 2014
The chairman of one of Cambridgeshire County Council’s biggest spending committees is to be replaced after being diagnosed with “severe dyslexia”.
UKIP Councillor Paul Clapp of Wisbech has been forced to accept his replacement as chairman of the adults committee following a threatened vote of no confidence by the group leaders of the four other political parties at Shire Hall.
Council leader Steve Count together with Lib Dem leader Councillor Maurice Leeke, Labour leader Councillor Paul Sales and Independent Leader Councillor John Hipkin all signed a vote of no confidence letter to the chief executive Mark Lloyd.
They said they did not “undertake such action lightly or with any personal malice but purely out of concern for the reputation and efficiency of the council”.
They claimed that Cllr Clapp was
•struggling to cope with the role
•forgetting to call for votes on committee items
•failing to realise when the next item should be introduced
•reading recommendations from different items to that being debated
•is generally failing to ensure the meeting follows due process
The letter claims the role of chairman is also to work with officers on strategic issues “and we simply do not believe that the current chairman is experienced enough to do this at a very difficult and important time”.
Cllr Clapp said he had accepted a statement to be issued by his group leader, Councillor Paul Bullen, which will recommend a change in chairmanship from the October meeting of the council.
It is intended Cllr Clapp will swap places with health committee member and spokesman UKIP Councillor Sandra Rylance of Chatteris. He take her place on the health and wellbeing board.
Cllr Bullen said: “The swap is being recommended to help support Councillor Clapp who has had a recent diagnosis of severe dyslexia.
“While this means he finds it hard to cope with the amount of paperwork a chairman needs to deal with and read it also gives him vital insight for his new role on health. “Equally Councillor Rylance, with a background in caring, will be an ideal chairman for the adults committee. The council will be supporting Councillor Clapp following the recent diagnosis.”
Cllr Clapp said the recent diagnosis had been “a great surprise” to him but he denied he had failed to chair committees to a high standard.
He said: “For all of last year I was chairman of the children’s and young people’s committee and everyone was very pleased with the work I did.”
Prior to becoming a councillor his outside work had included 10 years as a youth worker which, ironically, had included helping young people cope with dyslexia.
He said: “Effectively we were pushed into a corner since we would have not succeeded against a vote of no confidence. It’s left a bitter taste.”
He added that he would be speaking out at a national UKIP conference on the issue and hoped to win support from those who believe people with dyslexia face discrimination.
The letter to Mr Lloyd from the four party leaders spoke of the “potential negative effects” of having a chairman with an “apparent lack of experience and understanding”.
It added: “The council has to be perceived as a knowledgeable, credible and well run organisation.” Cllr Clapp “clearly has relevant personal knowledge in both children and adult services…..but we have seen no evidence of any ability to take a strategic view for the good of the residents of Cambridgeshire.”