6:29pm Thursday 5th September 2013
By Graeme Hetherington
THE leader of a North East council has seen off a vote of no confidence laid down by opposition councillors.
Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council leader George Dunning secured a significant victory when the motion tabled by Liberal Democrats was defeated 27 votes against, with 13 in favour.
Lib Dem group leader Glyn Nightingale said motion was not a reflection on Councillor Dunning but it was the only way that a change of leader could be achieved.
Last month the labour group lost overall control of the council when two members defected leaving them with 29 councillors with 30 in opposition.
Speaking at the Borough Council meeting, he said: “This is not about Councillor Dunning as an individual, it’s the Labour administration that he leads. They are just not listening to the people and have no clear direction for the future of the borough.”
However, a former labour councillor, who was one of the defectors that resulted in the party losing overall control of the council, laid the blame for the motion and his defection at the feet members behind in-house fighting.
Councillor John Hannon said: “I walked away from the labour group for a number of reasons, one of those reasons is the rumpus that has been caused by members who are not even here today.”
Conservative councillor Valerie Halton criticised the council leader’s choice of cabinet members.
She said: “I can give numerous examples where George Dunning is not a strong leader, the cabinet is based on favour and not ability.”
However, fellow labour councillor Mark Hannon give his leader his full support, he said: “I have had a number of disagreements with George Dunning, we are both passionate people and we are both passionate about the area and he always tries to do what is right for the area.”
And his deputy Sheelagh Clarke added: “This is not about George Dunning and it is nothing to do with this council – it’s about nasty politics. You (the Lib Dems) have jumped on the bandwagon and your party is good at jumping on bandwagons.”
Defending his own position, Coun Dunning said: “I have done nothing wrong, there is an open door for anyone to come in and speak to me or the deputy leader. Don’t vote for this Lib Dem motion – they are only doing because they are desperate.”
In a named vote 27 members voted against the vote of no confidence, 13 members voted in favour, nine abstained and ten did not attend the meeting.
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