20 February 2019
District Councillor Tony Rowell has called on the Leader of Lewes District Councillor to honour a Council vote.
The Green District Councillor proposed a motion to Lewes District Council at its November Meeting, calling upon 'the Leader of the Council to write to the Prime Minister asking for a general election to be called at the earliest opportunity'. The motion was debated and successfully passed by 18 votes to 16.
Cllr Rowell commented “The Conservative Leader of the Council, Andy Smith, expressed the view that he wouldn't be very pleased to have to write to the leader of his own party to ask for a general election. But it never occurred to me he would actually go against a council motion - that’s just not done.”
“After a number of weeks I emailed Cllr Smith asking when the letter would be sent and was shocked to get a reply saying 'the letter has not been sent nor will it be'. What was more shocking was that the legal services department confirmed that there was 'no legal or constitutional obligation on the Leader to honour this motion.’”
“The Leader's refusal to implement a motion agreed by a majority of Councillors makes a mockery of democracy. He needs to carry out the will of the Council - or he risks finding at local elections in May that the electorate will choose a party that wants to improve democracy and not diminish it.”
Cllr Rowell added that the behaviour illustrated the need for reforming the cabinet system used at Lewes District Council, whereby the cabinet is made up of Conservative councillors whereas the majority of councillors on the Council are from other parties, or are Independents.