Calls are flying around demanding Councillor Cowling’s resignation. Is she the problem? Well partly, but only in part. This is how RDC works under her regime. The Chief Executive has a proposal for Ryedale. (This in itself is of course good – a Chief Executive without proposals, ideas etc would be useless). This is followed by the senior officers; it then becomes an ‘officer’s recommendation’. Councillor Cowling, as Leader, then slavishly follows. In turn this is followed equally slavishly by the Tory councillors. This is a ‘Council Conga’. The people who should make the decisions are the councillors. As the largest group the Tory councillors should propose policy. This would be expected to be followed by the votes.
In the Conga Council we are in the position where the Tory councillors almost always support the officer’s recommendation. The opposition councilors are unable to persuade the Tory councilors because they, the Tories, are not deciding but following.
This is costing the taxpayers of Ryedale dearly:
- £200,000plus lost from the 1st Wentworth Street Car Park application – the Tories followed the officer’s recommendation.
- £200,000plus lost from the 2nd Wentworth Street Car Park application – the Tories followed the officer’s recommendation.
- £600,000plus lost to Affordable Housing and Public Open Space Unlike other councils no challenge from the Tories, the Tories followed the officers recommendation.
The solution is for the Tory councilors to think, challenge and where appropriate, vote against the Council Conga. Until this happens, replacing Councillor Cowling will make no difference. They have their chance this week. If the Tory councillors stop the sale of Wentworth Street Car Park then they deserve a new leader. If they continue with the farce of selling Wentworth Street Car Park and wasting Ryedale taxpayer’s money then they deserve to be led as they are.
John Clark, Liberal Group Leader, Ryedale District Council