New Chichester District Council leader changes cabinet

The new Chichester District Council cabinet SUS-150519-173249001
The new Chichester District Council cabinet SUS-150519-173249001
  • New council leader announced
  • Five new faces on cabinet
  • Controversy over South Downs National Park appointment
  • Secret ballot proposal rejected

A NEW leader for Chichester District Council was elected this afternoon with five new faces on the cabinet (Tuesday, May 19).

Previous cabinet member for finance and governance Tony Dignum succeeds Heather Caird, who stood down from the council before the latest election.

New Chichester District Council chairman Nick Thomas SUS-150519-173302001

New Chichester District Council chairman Nick Thomas SUS-150519-173302001

Mr Dignum, Conservative member for Chichester North, retains Eileen Lintill as deputy leader.

He said: “I am delighted to have been elected Leader of the council and I am looking forward to working closely with the cabinet, councillors and officers to meet the challenges ahead.

“One of our key aims is to protect our existing services from cuts, as we face continued reductions in our grant from central Government. You can be sure that we will continue to manage your money wisely and deliver high performance and low costs.”

The new cabinet members are Roger Barrow (Selsey South), Susan Taylor (East Wittering), Gillian Keegan (Rogate), Bruce Finch (Southbourne) and Philippa Hardwick (Fernhurst).

One of our key aims is to protect our existing services from cuts, as we face continued reductions in our grant from central Government

Tony Dignum, new leader of Chichester District Council

Losing their positions were Myles Cullen (Bosham), John Connor (Selsey North), Carol Purnell (Selsey North) and Josef Ransley (Wisborough Green).

The Tory majority is opposed by just three Liberal Democrats and three independents.

Clare Apel, representing Chichester West, will be Lib Dem leader, while Andrew Shaxson (Harting) will lead the independents.

Mr Shaxson will lead the independents as the official opposition group, after agreement with the Lib Dems.

But as part of a series of appointments to outside bodies, he was replaced on the South Downs National Park Authority board by Tory Mark Dunn.

The change caused controversy with the independents, with Midhurst’s Gordon McAra requesting a secret ballot to vote between the two members.

He said: “Andrew Shaxson is the current holder and has served the council extremely well and he brings vitality and knowledge to the job but also lives within the national park.”

Mr McAra asked councillors to vote to have a secret ballot on the issue as it was ‘non-political’.

He needed a majority to hold the ballot but despite some Conservatives voting with him, the move was defeated, with 15 for and 21 against.

The council then approved Mr Dunn for the role.

Elsewhere, outgoing chairman Martyn Bell thanked the public and councillors for their support during his term of office.

Plaistow councillor Nick Thomas was voted as new chairman, with Elizabeth Hamilton (West Wittering) acting as deputy.

Officers were praised by members for their handling of the recent election, with included parliamentary, local and parish polls.