A LEADING councillor in Northumberland has issued a stinging criticism of the former administration of which he was a part.
Coun Ian Lindley, who prior to this month’s elections was a member of the executive at Northumberland County Council, has left the authority’s Liberal Democrat group, which suffered a mauling at the polls.
Coun Lindley has now revealed his reasons for leaving – with the pre-election administration’s decision to retain Jeff Reid as leader the main factor.
In a memo sent to group members yesterday, the councillor explained the factors behind his decision.
He said that from taking power in 2008, group leaders “deliberately avoided having any stated policy aims as an administration” and adapted a “let’s see what happens” approach.
Coun Lindley alleges that there were “no decision-making processes within group” and that meeting attendance “quickly declined as it became evident that the outcomes of the early group discussions were ignored.”
The councillor also alleges there was “de facto domination of the group by two or three individuals” and says that executive members had “little meaningful input into ‘their’ portfolio decisions” with “policy decisions routinely presented by senior officers as fait accompli with little/no notice.”
In his memo to fellow Lib Dems, Coun Lindley said: “I have spent the last five years in increasingly desperate and public attempts to prevent the worst decisions going through.
“I have constantly sought to convince the group to put basic internal democratic processes in place. I have consistently sought to convince the leadership to put effective external communication systems in place.
“Despite being a relative newcomer to the party (joined 2006) I ended up writing the manifestos for 2008 – when it became evident no-one else was prepared to do this.
“I was also instructed to write the 2013 manifesto. The leadership provided no input to either. Up to the group leadership elections last week, I had pinned my hopes on a new start for the remnants of our group after May 2.
“The result of the leadership election and more importantly the way it was achieved has dashed this hope and, more significantly, reiterated the attitudes and values of many remaining group members.
“I can therefore see no hope in the short to medium term of improving our situation given this prevailing culture.”
Last night, Coun Lindley – who is to operate as an independent Lib Dem – wished to make it clear that he had not leaked the memo to The Journal, saying he disapproved.
He declined to comment on its contents other than to say: “I have formally notified the group and leading figures in Morpeth and Wansbeck of my departure and sent them a list of reasons for that which most of them know or are well aware of.”
Coun Reid hit back: “I am disappointed that he feels as though he needs to resign at this time but you can see how the Lib Dems in Northumberland suffered heavily at the hands of the electorate and his majority went from 800 to 80-odd. You can understand how that shock to the system, that wake-up call may actually force some people to reassess the position that he is in.
“I have always run a transparent, honest and open administration and a transparent, honest and open group. Everyone was free to speak their mind and often did.
“He feels as though he should have had a fresh start under a new leadership, then he should have put his name forward for election. I am personally sorry that his personal enmity towards me was the reason for him leaving a group he was a strong member of.”
A spokeswoman for the council said: “We are unable to comment on this kind of accusation.”