Calls for Lancashire county council leader Coun Geoff Driver to resign
The leader of Lancashire County Council is facing calls for his resignation as the debate escalates over a controversial restructure of the council.
The opposition Labour group has called for an extraordinary meeting of the county council to consider three motions - a vote of no confidence in Tory council leader Coun Geoff Driver, a call for the council to be given the opportunity to fully debate/implement the proposed restructure "in a transparent way" and a motion about the council's cash crisis.
It is expected the extraordinary meeting will be held on September 15.
Labour claims Coun Driver and the Conservative group were wrong to use a standing order to push through restructure proposals at cabinet, without sending them to full council for debate or allowing scrutiny through the council's call-in procedure. It says Coun Driver must go "due to the reckless restructuring of senior management without due consideration of the serious financial implications on services to the public".
The third motion notes: "This council is concerned that the serious financial situation will have a devastating effect on services unless it is considered in an open, transparent and constructive manner."
The senior team shake-up plans , recently approved by cabinet, would see Chief Executive Jo Turton' s role merged with that of the council's finance boss and financial watchdog and a new role of Chief Executive and Director of Resources created.
There are three new Executive Director posts in the new structure - one for Education and Children’s Services, one for Adult Services and Health and Wellbeing and one for Growth, Environment, Transportation and Community Services. An Interim Chief Executive and Director of Resources would be appointed for up to 12 months.
Lancashire County Councillor and Labour Deputy Leader County Coun John Fillis predicted the restructure could cost the council millions of pounds and the council could potentially face legal action for unfair dismissals due to the way changes were being handled. He said: "This is a shifty and shabby attempt by the Conservative Group to avoid an open and honest debate at full council on the future of people's services...it's clear that their plans would not save money, but it will actually cost the people of Lancashire millions of pounds "
But Coun Driver said the restructure was a cabinet proposal supported by the Conservative group: "By any objective assessment the present structure of the county council is not fit for purpose and will not be able to sort out the financial and service problems that exist...They are just clutching at straws, trying to stall it (the restructure) further."
He continued: "I have no intention of resigning. The reason is the people of Lancashire voted for a Conservative administration because they felt the previous administration, supported by the Liberal Democrats, had put the county council in a mess. The Conservative group felt I was the appropriate person to lead the county council to sort the mess out. I'm determined to make services and finances sustainable."
A council spokesman said: "A motion has been submitted by the Labour Group to the Chairman of the county council (Coun Terry Aldridge). The Chairman will now decide whether to instruct the Chief Executive to call an extraordinary meeting of the full council to consider the motion."