Northumberland County Council elects new leader

Northumberland County Council has confirmed Glen Sanderson as its new leader.

Monday, 28th September 2020, 4:32 pm
Coun Glen Sanderson.

Coun Sanderson, who represents the Longhorsley ward, was backed by 36 votes to one, with 26 abstentions, at an extraordinary full council meeting last week, following the ousting of Coun Peter Jackson.

“Some may think it’s a poisoned chalice, but for me it is a great honour,” he said.

“Every councillor is just as much a director of this multimillion-pound company as I am, so I’m hoping together we can try to concentrate more on positivity and less on negativity, more time on getting behind our staff – each and every one of them, more for working for the best for our residents, and more relevant discussion between us, because any successful business has to have good communication.”

The new deputy leader and cabinet secretary is Coun Richard Dodd, the ward member for Ponteland North, who was previously the authority’s business chairman.

Coun Jackson was removed from his position by a single vote in a motion of no confidence thanks to three Tory rebels in the wake of the row between the Conservative administration and the chief executive Daljit Lally, sparked by Mrs Lally being placed on ‘extended leave’ just after she emailed all councillors with what she claimed were ‘serious whistle-blowing concerns’.

Coun Sanderson had become deputy leader after the resignation of Coun Wayne Daley in August, and then acting leader following Coun Jackson’s dismissal.

And on Friday, September 11, the Conservative group officially elected Councillors Sanderson and Dodd as its new leadership team, although the council leader has to be voted in by the full council.

This proved little more than a formality as the Labour opposition – as promised – did not try to prevent Coun Sanderson from taking up the position.

However, its group leader, Coun Susan Dungworth, said: “Despite having a lot of personal respect for you, Glen, and belief you can do this job, I have to say that you are on probation at the moment, as far as we’re concerned, and your administration is as well.

“We’re disappointed to look at the list of cabinet members to see that there are still a number of people in that cabinet over who there are some serious questions hanging. We regret that you haven’t taken the opportunity to genuinely have a clean start.”

Coun Sanderson’s new cabinet – with some of the responsibilities amended and roles renamed – sees those already in post remain, although Coun Veronica Jones returns to the adult wellbeing role she resigned from in August.

Her replacement, Coun Jeff Watson, now moves to the newly-named Healthy Lives portfolio, which covers much of the art, leisure and culture post left vacant by Coun Cath Homer’s resignation last month.

However, the tourism strand has been moved to what was the economic development portfolio, with Coun Richard Wearmouth now responsible for business and tourism.

Coun Wendy Pattison, the ward member for Longhoughton, is the other new face, taking on the role of equality and diversity champion – a new position.

Coun Barry Flux, the previous deputy, was voted in as the new business chairman, with Coun Gordon Stewart elected as the new deputy.

The full list of cabinet members is as follows: Leader – Glen Sanderson; Deputy Leader and Cabinet Secretary – Richard Dodd; Corporate Services – Nick Oliver; Adult wellbeing – Veronica Jones; Community Services – John Riddle; Business and Tourism – Richard Wearmouth; Children and Young People – Guy Renner-Thompson; Healthy Lives – Jeff Watson; Equality and Diversity Champion – Wendy Pattison.