New ruling group introduces changes at district council

John Lodge is the newly elected leader at Uttlesford District Council. Picture: ARCHANT

John Lodge is the newly elected leader at Uttlesford District Council. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

The group has been in power at Uttlesford District Council for less than a month but already Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) has moved to introduce changes.

The party, which swept to victory in the May 2 district council elections, gaining 15 seats and removing the Conservatives from control, has created four new portfolios and cut cabinet allowances, with their sights sets on further alterations.

Councillor John Lodge, newly elected leader of Uttlesford District Council (UDC), said: "We are stuck with the existing cabinet system until we can replace it with something more democratic. But we've made some significant changes. We have designed a larger, wider cabinet structure with less hierarchy.

"This is more democratic as it will reduce the control that the leader previously had by giving many more people a voice at the table. It will not cost any more because we have cut cabinet allowances."

Cllr Lodge continued: "There are now 15 portfolios held by 10 cabinet member councillors. The new portfolios reflect the things that residents have told us are important. Anthony Gerard will lead the new resident and community partnerships portfolio. A key goal for him is to drive change at UDC to make sure the resident is always listened to. Deryk Eke has the big task of leading the new infrastructure, transport and airport portfolio. Residents told us they want action on climate change, so Louise Pepper will head up the new environment and green issues portfolio. She is also picking up the new equalities portfolio. Our first subtle action in that area is that the council will now use the neutral term 'chair' in preference to the outdated 'chairman' - a very small but important change."

"We are committed to cross-party working. We understand and respect the Lib Dem's decision to decline our offer to join the cabinet. However, we are delighted that they've accepted the position as vice chairman of the council for Martin Foley. Scrutiny of the council is important and it is best practice if it is not done by the majority party. We are delighted that independent councillor Neil Gregory has accepted the role of chair of the scrutiny committee."