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Mid Devon Council Leader ‘acting like the Sun King!’

September 30, 2020 6:35 PM

Liberal Democrat Councillors will today bring a motion of 'no confidence' in Mid Devon District Council Leader Bob Deed. Councillor Deed recently 'sacked' Liberal Democrat members of his Cabinet after losing a vote, 7 to 1, on the controversial Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GESP).


The Plan proposes significantly more house building than envisaged under the Council's own neighbourhood development plan and has met with opposition, as it is seen as being more about the urban needs of Exeter than the rural needs of mid Devon.
In a reference to the despotic French monarch, Louis XIV, leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Luke Taylor, accused Mr Deed of "… acting like the Sun King, imposing his will on the Council against all standards of reasonable democratic behaviour."

Whilst Councillors are often elected on a political party ticket the tradition is for Councillors to act in a more neutral fashion, prioritising constituents' needs over party political programmes.
Liberal Democrat Councillor Alex White commented, "As Liberal Democrats we are very proud to have forged a consensus with Independent and Green Councillors that in the last two years has made the Council more responsive to the needs of the local community. We unwisely thought Bob Deed, who had quit the Tory Group, shared our principles, but it looks like he has reverted to type."
Deed, who has been heavily involved in promoting the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan, replaced the four Liberal Democrat Councillors with his former Conservative colleagues in a move seen to be aimed at reversing the Council Cabinet decision to oppose GESP.

"The ability of the Council Leader to 'hire and fire' members of the Cabinet without reference to the whole Council is a serious democratic deficit. It allowed Mr Deed to abuse his position, acting more like the Sun King…" said Luke Taylor. "… this is not in the interests of the residents of Mid Devon and we are left with no option but to require Councillor Deed to stand down as Leader."
"We hope that Independent and Green Councillors, even those Conservatives who worry about local democratic norms, will support this move," said Councillor Graeme Barnell. "If we are successful we will continue our consensus based approach and look to appoint a new Leader from the membership of the Independent Group of Councillors."

The vote of no confidence in Councillor Deed is finely balanced, with the Conservative Group expected to support him after being 'gifted' the four Cabinet positions. "The Conservatives will have to decide if they think this sort of undemocratic behaviour is acceptable," concluded Luke Taylor.

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