Liberal Democrats sacked from the Cabinet at MDDC for campaigning against large scale development
By Luke Taylor
Following the full Council meeting held on the 26th August 2020, the four Liberal Democrat Councillors who stood on Mid Devon District Council Cabinet have been removed. The move by the Leader of the Council, Cllr Bob Deed, follows from an initial amendment put forward by Lib Dem group leader Luke Taylor to withdraw from the controversial Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GESP). The amendment was passed 7-1 (with only the Leader voting against).
The four Liberal Democrats were sacked for going against the Leader, and in turn for their support, the four Cabinet positions were given to members of the Conservative Party.
Cllr Deed is Chair of GESP and a strong supporter of the scheme which would see Mid Devon taking on thousands of additional housing needs that other authorities are unable to build. He hopes to continue GESP despite the decision by East Devon to pull out. This, as was confirmed by the head of planning - can lead to Mid Devon having to take an even larger housing allocation.
After the withdrawal of East Devon District Council, several members of the Cabinet including those from the Independents and Green Party put up a new amendment that would have seen Mid Devon creating its own local plan. This would be member led approach and would stop a boundary blind process that will inevitably see Mid Devon take additional housing from Exeter and Teignbridge who cannot realistically achieve their own targets whilst still communicating with other authorities in the area.
Group Leader Luke Taylor said 'I am disappointed to have been removed from Cabinet after we had given our support to Cllr Deed after the May 2019 elections. I am proud of the work we had done and knew Cabinet was moving in the right direction. We had been supportive of changes to Governance and in my own portfolio with the environment was pleased to have been progressing with more dual recycling bins in our communities and the addition of small electrical items being collected with recycling, however I wish the new coalition all the best going forward whilst the Liberal Democrat group will become sound opposition'.
Cllr Barnell adds 'I too am disappointed by the Leader to take this decision, I had read every part of the GESP plans and had concerns from the outset. I knew our communities would be heavily impacted by GESP and could be lost forever. I did all I can to try and protect Mid Devon from mass building'.
Cllr Clist, who was told he was innocent by the Leader added 'I am slightly bemused, the Leader told me I was innocent but that if one Lib Dem goes they all go. I was willing to remain a Cabinet member and be part of a politically balanced Cabinet which would have been a great benefit to all of Mid Devon - however it appeared my position was already promised elsewhere'.
Cllr White finished by adding 'As Liberal Democrats we did all we could for the benefit of Mid Devon and unfortunately the political ambitions of some has led to this. I hope the new Conservative led coalition will achieve on their promises made whilst in opposition.