Former leader quits East Cambs council alleging 'disquiet' over cuts that could see up to 23 posts axed
PUBLISHED: 16:03 07 March 2014 | UPDATED: 17:09 07 March 2014
A former leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council has resigned over “disquiet” surrounding proposals to reorganise the authority and possibly axe 23 posts.
Peter Moakes, a Sutton councillor, said that he was unhappy with the way proposals to reorganise the council had been “forced through” by a small group of councillors without consultation with the rest of the group.
Mr Moakes said that he had raised his concerns with his successor James Palmer but he claims there was no willingness shown to amend the proposals.
He said: “No-one was consulted, Anna Bailey and a couple of other councillors put it together and pushed it through. I think there is disquiet among other councillors about it.
“I am disappointed with the turn the Conservative leadership has taken, particularly the way they are thinking about reorganisation.”
Asked how he would have handled the matter if he were still leader, Mr Moakes said: “It would have been rather different from what they are doing.”
Mr Moakes was absent from a meeting of full council, held last Thursday (February 27), in which the 2014/15 budget was agreed.
As part of a round of cost savings, up to 23 posts at East Cambridgeshire District Council are at risk of redundancy, with the ruling Conservative group stating that they wish to make the council more commercially minded.
A council spokesman for the district council said: “Cllr Moakes has informed the chief executive that he has resigned from East Cambridgeshire District Council. The process for a by-election for his Sutton ward will now begin and we will publish further details of this when they become available.”
Mr Moakes was elected to the Sutton seat in 2007 and took over as leader of the Conservative group in May 2011, after the former leader Fred Brown of Littleport lost his seat.
Mr Moakes said that it was “too early to say” whether he regretted leaving the council but said that he was proud of the work he had done on the Ely station gateway and various master plans in his time as leader.
In his resignation speech as leader last year Mr Moakes said that “together with my colleagues, we have faced many challenges and while tough decisions have had to be taken I believe they have been made for the benefit of the district.
“Whether it has been setting the future growth of new homes, directing investment into the local economy or pushing forward projects such as the Ely bypass and the leisure centre – we have helped move the district forward.
“However during all this, I have been keenly aware that while my focus has never waivered from doing the best for East Cambridgeshire, I know I am approaching my 70th birthday. This is why I decided not to seek re-election to the role of leader.”