Babergh faces new crisis as council prepares for vote on sacking leader

Jennie Jenkins is fighting for her political life at Babergh. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Jennie Jenkins is fighting for her political life at Babergh. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Babergh is facing a pre-Christmas political crisis next Tuesday when a full meeting of the council will vote on whether to remove leader Jennie Jenkins and put the brakes on moves to merge with Mid Suffolk.

A three part motion has been tabled for the meeting, which will take place at Endeavour House in Ipswich, proposed by Labour councillor Tony Bavington and seconded by Independent Conservative councillor Stephen Williams.

Mr Williams is one of two Tories who left the part several years ago in protest to the council’s support for plans to build new homes in East Bergholt.

The motion is a three-pronged attack on the current Conservative administration running Babergh Council. It says:

1. No Babergh money should be allocated in the next budget and no staff time be used from April 2018 for the purposes of the Proposed Merger without the formal approval of the full Council.

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2. As a condition of obtaining of full council approval, the leader be requested to guarantee that a new local referendum shall be held. 3. As Jennie Jenkins has declined to guarantee referendum approval, she be removed from the office of Leader of the Council with immediate effect and a new Leader be elected.

On paper the leader should be safe – the Conservatives hold 27 out of the 43 seats on the council even after former deputy leader Simon Barrett was suspended by the group.

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Enough Conservatives rebelled in the last full council meeting to force a delay in organising public consultation on the merger proposal – and neither side is confident of victory in next Tuesday’s vote.

Councillors will be talking to each other on the phone over the weekend and a behind-closed-doors group gathering of Babergh’s Conservatives before Tuesday evening’s meeting is expected to be extremely heated.

Mrs Jenkins supporters are hoping that some independent councillors could fail to support the motion because they fear that if she was not leading the council any replacement could be far worse for the smaller parties.

But Independent councillor Derek Davis doubted this: “The fact is the cabinet keeps saying ‘we are listening’ but then totally ignores our concerns. I think people are fed up with them.”

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