North Devon Council was told of a ‘shocking’ record of inaction and arrogance by members of the ruling Conservative group at a crunch meeting last week.
Nine Tory members of the council administration failed to deliver essential annual reports required by their appointment as advisers and overseers of key local and national bodies, the council was told at a full meeting on March 13, 2019.
With its resources stretched by years of austerity, the council appoints members to liaise and report on the activities of organisations for which it contributes funding, such as Barnstaple and District Chamber of Commerce or Ilfracombe & District Tourism Association.
But out of 30 reports due from the appointees, only 11 were submitted. And of the 11 councillors who failed to submit, nine were Conservatives.
“It is shocking, really shocking,” said Cllr Caroline Leaver, while castigating her fellow councillors for their negligence at the full council meeting last week.
“It is insulting to the council, to the bodies themselves and to the people of North Devon. It contributes to a public perception that politicians do not listen, and do not care. We should be able to expect better of our politicians.”
The list of reports not received from councillors appointed to outside bodies made for “depressing reading”, Cllr Leaver said.
Listing the missing reports at the meeting, Cllr Leaver said the council had not received reports from councillors appointed to oversee, among others: Barnstaple and District Chamber of Commerce, Barnstaple Town Centre Management, Barnstaple Youth House, Combe Martin Tourism Association, The Council for the Protection of Rural England, Devon Districts Forum, Devon & Exeter Rail Project Working Party, Devon Waste Reduction & Recycling Committee, District Councils’ Network Assembly, Go North Devon, Ilfracombe & District Tourism Association, LGA General Assembly and Northern Devon Growth Board.
Tory councillors Pat Barker and David Luggar both failed to submit a single report covering the four external bodies to which they had each been appointed. Other Tory councillors who failed to submit any required reports included John Lovering, David Brailey, Paul Crabb, Glyn Lane, Jasmine Chesters and Jeremy Yabsley. Only Cllr Yabsley apologised at the meeting.
Cllr Leaver added: “We do not know if members have not attended meetings, and so have nothing to report, or if they have just elected not to provide the Council with a report. Either way, this is shockingly poor performance, which cannot just pass.”