Mystery surrounds cabinet change
MYSTERY surrounds the sudden departure of one of Suffolk's senior councillors from the county's ruling cabinet.The Labour Party have reacted to adult care and community service portfolio holder Jane Midwood's move by demanding to know if there are policy differences in the Conservative group over £14million of budget cuts in adult care and the imminent announcement on the future of care homes.
By Graham Dines
MYSTERY surrounds the sudden departure of one of Suffolk's senior councillors from the county's ruling cabinet.
The Labour Party have reacted to adult care and community service portfolio holder Jane Midwood's move by demanding to know if there are policy differences in the Conservative group over £14million of budget cuts in adult care and the imminent announcement on the future of care homes.
Less than three weeks before the annual meeting of the county council, Mrs Midwood, who lives at Wickhambrook, near Newmarket, and represents Risbridge division, has been replaced by Graham Newman, the councillor for Felixstowe Coastal.
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Council leader Jeremy Pembroke refused to say whether she had been sacked. “Jane has been asked to look at different tasks on the county council, and I am waiting for her reply,” he said.
Although no media announcement of the change in the cabinet has been made - itself a break from county council practice - Mrs Midwood has been removed from the cabinet pages on the county council's website and substituted in the portfolio by Mr Newman.
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Labour is demanding to know the reasons for the abrupt change but when contacted by the EADT, Mrs Midwood would only say: “The Labour Party can make of it what they will. I have no comment to make.”
In a letter to Mr Pembroke, Labour county councillor Kevan Lim has asked if the “resignation” of Mrs Midwood was voluntary or if she was encouraged to resign due to policy differences.
“I find it surprising that Mrs Midwood should resign less than a month before the annual meeting of the council and only a few weeks after having pushed through the council, £14m budget cuts in services to the elderly, including home and day care facilities.
“I have therefore asked Mr Pembroke to confirm to the council that the resignation is not the result of policy differences. This is especially important to the people of Suffolk as Mrs Midwood was also embarking on a review of residential homes provided by the county council and the cabinet were due to make a decision on the future of those homes in July.”
Mr Pembroke added: “The Conservative manifesto set out our commitment to look at adult care home provision and we are pressing ahead with a review, with a decision due to be made in July.
“The Conservatives have been elected for years and there will be times when I as leader may want new faces in our portfolio team. There is nothing sinister in this change - there are no policy differences.
“I have been impressed by Graham Newman's interest in the subject of adult care and community services and believe he will be an effective addition to our team.”