Three more cabinet members resign at Babergh council

John Ward, Conservative leader at Babergh District Council

John Ward, Conservative leader at Babergh District Council, is now faced with revamping his cabinet - Credit: BABERGH DISTRICT COUNCIL

Three cabinet members at a Suffolk council have resigned after one of their group was dismissed from their portfolio role.

Independent Ganges ward councillor Derek Davis was dismissed from Babergh District Council cabinet on Tuesday over apparent concerns from Conservative group members about his role as editor of the Nub News websites and “personal” comments voiced in a column by an anonymous commentator.

The Independent group discussed the situation, and on Wednesday the three remaining Independents on the cabinet – Clive Arthey, Alastair McCraw and Elisabeth Malvisi opted to resign from their front bench roles.

It leaves five Conservatives and one Liberal Democrat in the cabinet as it stands.

Lavenham councillor and Independent group leader Clive Arthey had been deputy leader and cabinet member for planning since the 2019 local elections.

Clive Arthey, Independent councillor for Lavenham

Clive Arthey, Independent councillor for Lavenham at Babergh District Council, who had been deputy council leader and cabinet member for planning - Credit: Babergh District Council

He said the dismissal of Mr Davis “not related to any failing on Derek’s part regarding his portfolio” meant he felt he “cannot continue to serve on a cabinet that no longer seems to respect the involvement and contribution of its Independent councillors”.

Alastair McCraw, Independent councillor for Brantham

Alastair McCraw, Independent councillor for Brantham who had been cabinet member for customer services, digital transformation and improvement at Babergh District - Credit: Babergh District Council

Mr McCraw stepped down from the customer services, digital transformation and improvement portfolio. In his letter to Conservative leader John Ward he said there was a “disruptive party political element” in the cabinet now.

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Elisabeth Malvisi, who held the portfolio for climate change, biodiversity and sustainable transport has also stepped down. She has been approached for comment.

Councillor Elisabeth Malvisi

Councillor Elisabeth Malvisi, councillor for Long Melford who had been cabinet member for climate change, biodiversity and sustainable transport at Babergh District Council - Credit: Babergh District Council

The council has only once had an overall majority since 1974, making a single-party cabinet more difficult to achieve.

The council leader has the ability to appoint or dismiss cabinet members, with a minimum of three cabinet members (including the leader) required to function as an administration.

Conservative leader John Ward said another couple of councillors would likely to be needed on the cabinet.

Derek Davis, Independent councillor for Ganges ward

Derek Davis, Independent councillor for Ganges ward, has been removed from his frontbench role in Barbergh's coalition cabinet. - Credit: Babergh Council

He said: “I will have to put together a minority administration for the last year until the election.

“I am very much a consensus person, and I do recognise that Babergh traditionally doesn’t go for single party control. 

“Following the 2019 election I was able to put together a stable, working coalition over the past few years, and I am just very sad that it couldn’t hold for the remaining year."

A revamped cabinet is likely to be announced within the next week.