Shake-up at district council revealed following defections

Uttlesford District Council

Uttlesford District Council - Credit: Archant

“Significant” changes in Uttlesford District Council’s (UDC) cabinet have been announced, after a group of senior councillors defected to the Green Party.

Last month, three Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) councillors, Paul Fairhurst, Anthony Gerard and Barbara Light, all of whom held cabinet positions, switched to the Green Party.

At an extraordinary council meeting on Thursday, councillors agreed on a recommendation to change the composition of committees, to reflect the council's new make-up.

During the meeting, Councillor John Lodge said: "There has been quite significant activity on green issues here at Uttlesford. Councillor Pepper [portfolio holder for environment and green issues] is extremely active, following on from the climate change emergency that we declared, and an upcoming conference in the new year on green issues so I'm sure that members will work very well along with the new Green Party. We have lost three members of the cabinet and so I propose to make significant changes to the cabinet."

The Green Party group also received a welcome from Liberal Democrat leader, Councillor Alan Dean, who said: "We in this corner of the council will look forward to working with them in their new role. I know some people think that there should be by-elections in such circumstances. I am not necessarily going to that follow that, particularly as my party seems to be picking up MPs all over the place at the moment."

Councillor Fairhurst was portfolio holder for business, economy, jobs, investment and strategy; and youth services. Now Cllr Lodge, who was previously responsible for planning and the local plan, has taken on strategy, the economy and investment. Planning and the local plan has been handed to Councillor John Evans.

Councillor Light was portfolio holder for education and libraries; culture, heritage and tourism. Now, Councillor Alexander Armstrong, already portfolio holder for sports and leisure, has taken responsibility for arts and leisure as well.

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Deputy leader Councillor Petrina Lees, already portfolio holder for housing; youth and health is now also lead for communities, previously held by Councillor Gerard before he defected.

Councillors Alan Storah, Colin Day and Maggie Sutton were appointed to deputy cabinet positions.