Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Questions over Cabinet Reshuffle

Liberal Democrat Councillors on Bath and North East Somerset Council have welcomed news of the replacement of the Cabinet member for Development and Major Projects: Councillor David Hawkins has stood down to be replaced by Councillor Terry Gazzard as of 1 November.

Councillor Andrew Furse at the new crossing point (photography: Jennifer Pack)

Cllr Furse campaigned for the new crossing, which the Council Cabinet needlessly delayed

However questions are being raised over the creation of a new Cabinet post specifically to preserve Councillor Hawkins' place on the Bath Recreation Ground Trust Board.

Councillor Andrew Furse (Liberal Democrat, Kingsmead) commented, "The Cabinet member has consistently displayed a lack of vision in his handling of the Major Projects portfolio. From the loss of the Dyson scheme to the delayed start of the Bath Western Riverside development, there has been a leadership vacuum in the portfolio.

"The Cabinet member has repeatedly come under fire for his handling of the Southgate development in Bath. Residents, visitors and local businesses have suffered unnecessary levels of disruption and even urgent measures, such as installing a crossing west of Bath Spa station - the lack of which adversely affected businesses on Manvers Street, were needlessly delayed.

"I am pleased that the Cabinet member has finally caved in to the repeated calls for his resignation. It remains to be seen whether Councillor Gazzard will prove a more effective replacement."

Councillor David Dixon (Liberal Democrat, Walcot) added, "It already appears that there is little faith in the new Cabinet member's abilities given that he is not being trusted with the previous Cabinet member's position on the Rec Trustees Board. Given that the Leader of Council has created a brand new Cabinet post to keep Councillor Hawkins on the Rec Trustees, why did she not take the opportunity to have two Bath Councillors on the Board?

"How can we be assured that the vital portfolio of Major Projects and Economic Development for Bath and North East Somerset will be safe in his hands?"