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Home > News > Babergh elects Leader for new term

Babergh elects Leader for new term

Posted by on 22 May 2019 | Comments

Cllr John Ward has been elected the Leader of Babergh District Council and appointed a cross-party Cabinet, with Cllrs Kathryn Grandon and Adrian Osborne serving as Chairman and Deputy Chairman, at the council’s Annual Council Meeting.

Babergh’s Annual Council Meeting on Wednesday (22 May) evening saw Cllr Ward elected as Leader, with Independent Group Leader Cllr Clive Arthey appointed Deputy Leader. This was the first meeting of the council following the Local Elections earlier this month.

Cllr Ward and Cllr Arthey said: “We are pleased to have been able to reach this collaborative mutual arrangement. It provides a balanced Cabinet and draws on skills and experience across the Council. It should provide stability for the Council as it starts another four-year term, and we are confident it is the best solution for the district, our communities and the people we represent.”

As new Leader, Cllr Ward then appointed their cabinet. The new cabinet are:

  • Cabinet Member for Finance: Cllr John Ward (Conservative)
  • Cabinet Member for Economic Growth: Cllr Michael Holt (Conservative)
  • Cabinet Member for Communities: Cllr Derek Davis (Independent)
  • Cabinet Member for Planning: Cllr Clive Arthey (Independent)
  • Cabinet Member for Environment: Cllr Elisabeth Malvisi (Conservative)
  • Cabinet Member for Assets and Investments: Cllr David Busby (Liberal Democrat)
  • Cabinet Member for Housing: Cllr Jan Osborne (Conservative)
  • Cabinet Member for Customers, Digital Transformation & Improvement: Cllr Lee Parker (Independent)

The meeting was opened by Mr Barry Gasper, who was elected Chairman last year. Although Mr Gasper is no longer a councillor, as the previous Chairman he was invited to open the meeting and chair the first agenda item, which saw Cllr Kathryn Grandon elected as his successor as Chairman of the Council. The meeting also saw Cllr Adrian Osborne elected to serve as Deputy Chairman. Cllr Grandon named Hadleigh Dementia Action Alliance as her Chairman’s Charity for 2019/20.

The full text of Cllr Ward’s speech is:

“I wish to thank you all for your support in electing me leader of Babergh District Council again. It is an enormous privilege and, as I have found out, hard work. But it is an interesting and rewarding role. We can make a real difference for our communities: we provide many of the services that our residents need and use every day and they rely on us to ensure that we keep delivering these, whatever difficulties we face.

I made a number of promises when I was elected leader at the beginning of last year and I can honestly say that I have kept to them. Key amongst these was to be as inclusive as possible and to this end I brought Cllr Davis into the Cabinet and proposed Cllr McCraw as chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

I am mindful that the Conservatives are now no longer in a majority, but we are the largest group and can and should play a part in the administration of the Council. Over the past year and a half I have demonstrated that I have the willingness and ability to reach out across the chamber and I am looking forward to working with all groups in one way or another for the benefit of Babergh as we start our new term. The Cabinet will reflect the fact that a mutual arrangement has been agreed to enable us to work together. It will draw on the best talent and experience in this chamber to enable us to address the tasks ahead of us. I think that this will be good for the Council as we will need broad support for some of our more pressing challenges, particularly getting our new Joint Local Plan completed without further delay and also ensuring we have a balanced budget for 2020/21 and a plan to close the gap in the years after that.

I am in a position to announce the Cabinet now, so I will be making the following appointments:

  • I will retain the Finance portfolio
  • Cllr Jan Osborne will retain the Housing portfolio
  • Cllr Holt will be the Cabinet member for Economic Growth
  • Cllr Malvisi will be the Cabinet member for the Environment
  • Cllr Arthey will be the Cabinet member for Planning and also the deputy leader
  • Cllr Davis will be the Cabinet member for Communities
  • Cllr Parker will be the Cabinet member for Customers, Digital Transformation & Improvement. This is the former Organisational Delivery portfolio. The new name, agreed with Mid Suffolk, really reflects what this portfolio is all about.
  • Cllr Busby will be the Cabinet member for Assets and Investments

The Communications portfolio that I created last year has achieved its purpose: a number of new communications initiatives were created, thanks to Cllr Grandon. These are now regular features and working well. It is a work in progress and further improvements will be made but this function will be firmly within the leader’s role going forward.

Clearly the administration’s programme cannot be aligned with the Conservative manifesto, but there are many promises in that document that would have widespread agreement and support I am sure. The Cabinet will, over the next few weeks, work out its own programme, drawing from proposals from all of its members.

At the beginning of last year I listed a number of specific projects that I wished to see completed or in progress. Many of these have been achieved, but there are still some that have suffered disappointing delays.”

Those that are well underway and delivering include:

  • Our council house building programme
  • The Redevelopment of Cork’s Lane – the planning application has been approved
  • The improvements to the Kingfisher and Hadleigh leisure centres
  • Our regeneration plans for Sudbury. The completion of the Vision for Prosperity was timely given the Government’s announcement of the Future High Streets Fund as it will be the basis of our bid for funding. Also the Hamilton Road prospectus has generated significant interest.
  • The Sproughton Enterprise Zone, which is now seeing a lot of activity with the development of the site for the first major occupant.
  • And finally our customer service. This has improved greatly with three face-to-face access points and a new online customer account portal, and we now have an excellent performance monitoring system in place that reports on all aspects of the council’s business.

But there are those where we do need to apply more focus and urgency:

  • There are still some conditions to be discharged before work can commence at the HMS Ganges site – drainage being the main one. Work on the Spine Road is expected to start in early Spring next year. Following that, the first phase of 30 dwellings hopefully will commence.
  • I did say at the start of last year that I hoped we would have projects underway for Belle Vue park in Sudbury – for both the land and the house. A lot of progress has been made in securing a much-needed hotel, but this is clearly a very controversial and emotive issue. We will need to think carefully about this, but I don’t want to see further delay.
  • And lastly, we do have three major industrial sites that need long-term secure futures: the former BX Plastics factory at Cattawade, Philips-Avent in Glemsford and Delphi in Sudbury. Babergh must do its utmost to work with other agencies to get the outcomes we desire for these.

I have only listed a few things, but we have a lot to do and it will, I am sure, be a busy and exciting time. I know that officially Babergh is classed as ‘no overall control’; however, this should really be ‘we are all in control, together’. The will is clearly there to make this arrangement work, so let’s do it."