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‘Resign or Face No Confidence Motion’, Tory County Council Leader Told

Published on: 9 Mar, 2017
Updated on: 9 Mar, 2017

Council leader David Hodge and leader of the opposition Hazel Watson.

In the wake of the council tax “sweetheart deal” controversy and the leaked sound recording of a Conservative group briefing, Liberal Democrats at Surrey County Council (SCC) have called for the leader of the council, Cllr David Hodge, to resign or face a motion of no confidence.

The move also follows the release of emails last night which revealed he had written to the prime minister asking for more cash, “…so that Surrey will continue to be a heartland for the Conservatives”.

The email sent from council leader David Hodge to the Prime Minister.

In another email Mr Hodge bemoaned the fact that the Conservative government: “…ties my hands and fails to support…[the] largest Conservative group in UK”.

Another email from David Hodge with a reply from Jonathan Lord, MP for Woking.

Cllr Hazel Watson, leader of the Liberal Democrats at County Hall in Kingston upon Thames said today (March 9): “I am calling on Cllr David Hodge to resign as leader of the council immediately or face a motion of no confidence at the council meeting of 21st March 2017.

“This is not a decision I take lightly but we cannot go on like this, with a leader of the council whose credibility is being undermined every day by new revelations, leaked emails, text messages and secret recordings. This has become a hugely time-consuming distraction for the county council from what it should be concentrating on, which is to serve the residents of Surrey.

Reaction from the Conservative group was swift. It issued a short statement: “SCC’s Conservative group has total confidence in leader David Hodge and therefore this motion will be soundly defeated at full council.

“At our group AGM taking place tomorrow [March 10], David will yet again stand unopposed for the position of leader. Such full support reflects his continual efforts to fight for the best interests of Surrey residents and doing all he can to safeguard the vital services our residents rely on.

“It is worth noting that the Lib Dems voted against the budget agreed at the last full council despite having failed to ever table an alternative budget. We cannot comprehend how the leader standing up for Surrey would warrant his resignation.”

The leaked sound recording and leaked emails raises the question of whether there is a mole within the Conservative group who would like to see their leader’s downfall. Leaks to the press, from someone with access to Cllr Hodge’s communications, commenced in December 2016.

Cllr Watson’s statement continued: “I am very clear that Surrey County Council needs a fairer funding deal with central government to fund the gap in adult social care. However, the leader of the council has approached this in totally the wrong way with the use of secrecy, calling in favours, “gentleman’s agreements”, and an unwillingness to share vital information with elected councillors and residents. I think this approach has failed and has damaged Surrey’s case for getting a better deal from government.

“The judgement of the leader of the council came into question when he and his Cabinet colleagues unanimously voted for a 15% council tax rise and a referendum to take place on 4 May, only to back down a week later at the council’s budget meeting, following opposition led by the Liberal Democrats and a huge outcry from Surrey residents.

“I believe that the leader of the council should go now because we need an end to the revelations, speculations and leaks so that the county council can focus on providing services for residents. This situation has caused embarrassment for the county council and I am very clear that we cannot go on like this. We need a fresh start with a new leader of the council who will approach the running of the council in an open and transparent way, focusing on serving Surrey residents.”

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Responses to ‘Resign or Face No Confidence Motion’, Tory County Council Leader Told

  1. A Atkinson Reply

    March 9, 2017 at 10:33 pm

    The comms detailed in the article illustrates perfectly the issue with local politics at the moment – it’s all about Conservatives and the party and not about the constituents they should represent.

    More than ever we should look to candidates and parties who truly represent local residents and local issues rather than the traditional route of voting for the local subsidiary of the national party pushing national policies at a local level. That is what the general election was for when we voted for MPs.

    I do hope that the residents soon realise that, at a local level, choices of our representatives should be driven by local issues and solved by local solutions.

  2. David Roberts Reply

    March 12, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    How dare Cllr Hodge put a gun to the heads of Surrey residents just to score a point in an internal Tory row about resources. I have no doubt that thousands of poor and vulnerable people were genuinely distressed by the thought of a 15% tax hike. It is grossly irresponsible to scare people like that. Now it’s only 5%, so how can we ever trust him again?

    The problem is that, here in Surrey, jumped-up politicians like Cllr Hodge operate within the sealed bubble of a Tory one-party state. This unhealthy monopoly of power is bad for democracy, bad for accountability and a sure-fire recipe for cronyism and corruption. Think Surrey, think Soviet Union, and vote “ABT” – Anything But Tory.

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