The Ones Who Signed – And The Ones Who Didn’t

These are the 20 Conservative Councillors who signed the motion to abolish ordinary councillors’ rights to call in a decision to full council:

Cllrs T G Cutmore; Mrs C E Roe;
K H Hudson; D Merrick; I H Ward; M R Carter; M J Steptoe; Mrs L A Butcher;
Mrs M H Spencer; Mrs G A Lucas-Gill; Mrs J E McPherson; M Maddocks;
C G Seagers; K J Gordon; S P Smith; Mrs A V Hale; Mrs C A Weston;
R R Dray; Mrs J A Mockford and B T Hazlewood:-


and these 7 are the ones who haven’t signed:

Phil Capon
Tracy Capon
Heather Glynn
John Griffin
Jack Lawmon
Dave Sperring
Barbara Wilkins


  1. I was looking on line for information about this cabinet system, when it came in etc. and I came across a brief pr้cis of the Local Government Act 2000 which set up this cabinet idea. I attach below one fairly relevant sentence

    “The leader and cabinet are responsible for policies, plans and strategies, and for recommending them to the overall council, which is of course convened as a whole, at regular council meetings”

    Seems that RDC have missed out a few vital parts of the “model set up” there.

    Do they think we are all stupid? Or do they really feel such complete and utter contempt for anyone who isn’t them that they think they can just ride roughshod over everyone and everything? Or are they just complete megalomaniacs”

    I know one thing. I have always voted Conservative (other than for Chris locally), but the antics of the Tory party in this area, coupled with the complete indifference of our MP has ensured that I will never, ever vote Tory again. I don’t know what I’ll do come the General Election – sorry Chris I can’t vote Lib Dem as I completely disagree with your party’s stance on Europe. The way it’s going this may be the first election since I was entitled to vote that I don’t participate in.

  2. Jim @ 4 – why, are they worried he might actually read something that makes him think there is a point of view other than RDC

    Richard @ 5 – Seems fair, definite vested interested for cabinet members. How many of them are there in fact?

  3. Chris , Richard at 5 – he has a point , I thought Councillors had to maintain an open mind until a conclusion after the debate – this lot have already voted ( ie:- signed up ).

  4. Toby ,not unexpected as everyone seems to wish to hang on to power .All power to you as you keep the principled, caring flag of responsible Toryism flying .I hope that your electorate will remember at your next election . what is your view on a referendum ,or would your reply put you in further conflict with the Junta ?

  5. @13 Sadly, it has now become such a regular occurrence for opposing members to win a debate but then lose the vote and this culminated in last nights charade. The current Conservative members hide behind the voices of of few and feel no requirement to articulate the reasons behind the way they vote. It is an appalling state of affairs.
    I am happy to confirm that I will support whatever it takes to remove the current Cabinet system and return to accountable democracy.

    I also felt sorry for the 2 members of the public who asked valid questions at last nights meeting expecting their questions to be properly answered. Unfortunately, those who should have respectfully been there to answer the questions, (especially as they were submitted in advance) appeared to have hidden themselves so far inside the bunker, they didn’t deem it necessary to turn up or even submit a written answer! So much for accountability…

  6. Toby,

    As one of those asking a question I have to admit I got the answer I expected, I wasn’t happy but expected nothing else, just wanted to make a point in the minutes

    Democracy was the loser

  7. Thanks for that observation Toby ( I was the other speaker ) , not used to the protocol so my query about the first non-answer was considered ( by the Chairman ) to be my
    2nd question , so effectively blunted my opportunity – but I am a quick learner and will be back to ask more awkward questions.

  8. Toby, accountability seems to no longer exist. It is clear that an inner cabal can now make every single decision according to how they feel, run this district like some sort of private club, and have their sheep follow along like good little boys and girls.

    One can only hope that somewhere along the line some of the “whipped” will grow a conscience and a sense of shame and start the revolution.

  9. Aware that their large 80% majority is slowly starting to erode away, the (aging) Conservatives at District Council are making a classic political mistake. With concerns about the decision making process becoming more vocal amongst residents (and from a few voices within) and opposition groups gradually making in-roads and winning seats, sensible leadership would start reaching out in order to refresh, regroup and address the concerns being raised by listening and finding ways to compromise and accept more accountability. That approach gains respect. However, the Conservatives under the leadership of Cllr Terry Cutmore have decided to dig deeper and deeper into a bunker. Losing sight of the fact they are elected as servants not masters, they cling desperately to (profitable positions) of power. In a panic, the Conservatives have decided to batten down the hatches, refuse to listen and start removing layers of the democratic process (such as the right to Call-In). This will inevitably fail and lead quickly to the demise of the Conservative administration for one simple reason above all others… The opposition groups now have a single issue to unite over and fight for – Democracy!
    If the opposition focus remains determined and gains strength and public support, arguments will increase from within the conservative group and they will eventually turn on each other, blame, splinter and fragment… I believe it is only a matter of time before the Conservatives finally wake up to this reality. But because of the stubborn, myopic approach of their Leaders, when they do eventually wake up, it will be too late and the ones who remain on board will never be forgiven…

  10. We have talked about public apathy in respect of politics before ( people don’t think they can influence opinion ) – but they can , just how can the public at large be motivated to get involved?.
    For example in Billericay when hundreds of houses on Green Belt was announced the next Council Meeting was overwhelmed by hundreds attending , the meeting was re-arranged as a public forum on that particular subject and guess what those plans were scrapped.

  11. Christine Paine @20 “Chris, any further thoughts on going the referendum route.”

    Christine, I am happy to answer your question in public for open debate. There will be plenty of holes and “meat” in my thoughts for everyone to latch on to for a long discussion.

    Let us assume that all the Opposition Groups in Rochford District Council are agreed “in principle” to supporting a call from the public for a Referendum on “Committee” or “Cabinet”. One party, UKIP, seems pretty interested in promoting Referendums. The cost of a Referendum in Rochford District, just for the voting part of IN or OUT, YES or NO, would be in the region of ฃ90,000 before the campaign costs of the YES or NO camps which I believe would have to be met from private resources not from public funds.

    The opposing or NO camp would most likely be the Conservative Party which is already funded and ready to fight a General Election in 2015 and ALL OUT District Council Elections in 2016.

    As the Opposition Groups in Rochford District Council are, alone and realistically, unable to be able to match these resources in terms of campaigners,leaflets, canvassers in a District wide Referendum then where would these resources come from?

    The only answer would be a District wide, “Referendum Action Group” resourced and funded by the residents of the District.

    But is that actually feasible for us to rely upon?

    History tells me that our District is very good at spawning “single interest” action groups whenever they are necessary on a fairly local basis. The largest I have seen is RAG but it still only goes as far as Rayleigh with an alliance in Hullbridge.

    Could a Referendum Action Group attract enough interest in terms of activists and money across the whole District so the campaign would be committed to a high level in every electoral ward because that is what it would really mean?

    I have tried, personally as a District Councillor, to link together all the action groups across the District which oppose the Core Strategy but there has been no cohesive motivation to do so even with this emotive issue which brings out the most community spirit.

    My proposition is to ask the public if they wish to create a Referendum Action Group with a large committed team of activists that are fully and generously funded by the public to run a successful campaign against an equally motivated and well funded NO group?

  12. So, a bit like going to court then , your ordinary Joe is priced out of it .

    Seems to me it would be easier to make the relevant Ward electorates aware of
    what is going on and get the regular Pied Piper ( Whip ) Councillors voted out at the
    next opportunities – which would make for some closer voting in the Chamber.

    But as you say only local issues motivate action , so the sleepy Canewdon residents
    are not going to get exicited about gridlock or Travellers in Rayleigh are they.

    Seems to me the General Election platform for all opposition parties must be on
    the issue of Democracy ( that is a common theme at national & local level ) if only
    linked to the EU eroding away our long standing independence.

  13. Thanks John, I see the problem. Here’s a thought for you – rather than an actual referendum what would be the cost involved in organising a district wide petition calling on the Council to reinstate the “call in” facility. As I understand it you need 5% of the electorate to sign a petition to go for the referendum, but maybe a petition direct to the Council aiming for as high a % of the electorate as it was possible to get in say, a 6 week period, would show them public feeling without having to find the funding and resources of an actual referendum campaign and vote. Social media is a great way of doing this sort of thing, and cheap.

  14. @Christine – Yes, this could be done but in accordance with all of the Council rules complied with for a valid Petition. (Personally I would expect this to be ignored but that is my cynical opinion of what RDC thinks about the opinion of the public as expressed in numbers in the Core Strategy that have already been ignored !!)

    I am glad that Jim posted that alternative proposition because I tend to think that if significant money and activist resources are unlikely to be raised by a “Referendum Action Group” then perhaps there might be enough residents ready and willing to stand under a variety of opposition banners in 2015 and 2016 to create a position of No Overall Control.

    Having said that I have appealed for Independent Candidates before over all the local web sites and social media before but no one came forward.

    So I ask the public once again………… me if you wish to and I will give you every assistance as I am sure would any of the Opposition Groups as well.

    If not the default position of majority control by the Conservatives will remain and that is what no action will probably deliver again. Last Chance !!

  15. I think it would be prudent for agreed representatives here to make contact with members of Fylde Borough Council for information about their experiences – They very recently successfully held a referendum to return from Cabinet to Committee system. However, their public campaign (by the Fylde Civic Awareness Group) took 6 years! But it all originated as a consequence of similar issues we are facing here – Lack of transparency, exclusion of councillors from the decision making process etc…
    The frustrating thing here is that several members of the Conservative Group will privately admit to being against the Cabinet System! Hypocrisy or Democracy? Only they can decide….

  16. We probably won’t get the numbers ,nor the 90K and it might take years so realistically it has to be picking off the Lemming type Councillors over the next
    2 years – which Wards are the targets?.
    Based on the Parking Charge abstentions and feelings about the Core Plan ( and repeat flooding ) it would seem that Rayleigh is a likely target ( I don’t mean standing against Chris / Toby et al ) – but there are a good handful of party-line Conservatives to go for, I’m going to research who.
    At the higher level ( MP ) I don’t think that Mark Has any influence over RDC , he represents just Rayleigh & Wickford, so just one foot in two Councils – but I guess
    they are both “influenced” by the current Government , so any change would be good.

  17. OK , research done , potentially ten targets but, discounting those only elected this year we have those 5 elected in 2011 & 2012 , presumably coming up for re-election soon
    (CHRIS – when ?) :-
    Cllr I Ward (2011)
    Cllr D Merrick (2012)
    Cllr C Roe (2012 )
    Cllr J Mockford ( 2012)
    Cllr S Smith ( 2012 )


  18. Jim. bear in mind we could have completely new ward boundaries in 2016 with all 39 seats up for election in May 2016.. It could be a very dramatic year. The problem at the moment isn’t identifying whom we want to defeat, it’s having good candidates that we want to see win.

    There are dozens, if not hundreds, , of good people in our district who would be good councillors. We just need to find them and persuade them to stand. Just bear in mind:

    1) You DON’T need to be wildly enthusiastic about politics to be a good councillor
    2) You WON’T be instructed how to vote by head office in London.
    3) You DON’T have to give up work.
    4) You WILL enjoy being a Councillor – meet lots of people, see their gardens, stroke their cats and drink their coffee
    5) You WILL have great days when you have succeeded in helping someone.

    6) You DO need to care about your area
    7) You DO need to engage with your residents and visit them.
    8) You will PROBABLY need to take a week’s holiday from work to spend canvassing during the election
    9) You will PROBABLY need to give up some hobbies or other interests to free up enough time to be a good councillor.
    10)You WILL have bad days when you fail to help someone

    I’m not particularly talking about being a Lib Dem candidate here , though of course we do need more candidates and helpers. There are other parties and groupings out there, and there’s a lot of co-operation these days.

  19. Admin, I take your point. However, I have seriously considered both Parish and District Council, and there is one main thing that puts me off. I spent the last 15 years of my working life running a department in a large Insurance Brokers. If I needed rate reductions, well I either got the Underwriter in or I walked in to Lloyds and saw him and within half an hour we had an agreement. If I had equipment problems or I needed something for the department to run more smoothly, I picked the phone up and it happened. Everyone took responsibility. If something had to happen I made it happen and the people I went to, well it was their job to help me make it happen. I don’t think I could take the frustration of buck passing, everyone denying it was their responsibility it was someone elses, RDC say ECC, ECC say Anglian Water, Anglian Water pass it back to ECC, that sort of thing.

    With the current Cabinet system and Tory whip, it seems that being able to make it happen is even more remote. I’m probably not the only one who looks at the current set up and feels it won’t work for them because they are used to being able to actually do something about things.

  20. Christine, I can’t say you are wrong. It can be very frustrating. And it does deter some good candidates from standing. But we still need good people to fight – and win – if we are going to improve things.

  21. I guess that I see it that way too , my post above thought we could make a dent in it next year and the year after ( ie:- short term ) but this boundary change not till 2016 will mean we won’t even know what is possible till then , and that is a turn off ( North of London Rd and no Infrastructure will have been approved by then ).

    Like Christine I am used ( when I was still working ) to executing multi-million pound
    Design and build projects in two years – sometimes in the middle of nowhere with no
    Infrastructure at all / sometimes in a built up area with all the red tape.

    Our success was based on working with/ getting buy in from and doing what it said on
    the tin – a completely a opposite approach to that of RDC.

  22. Christine, this reply is in response to your posting but it is meant for the wider readership.

    I appreciate your concerns and those of Jim about the potential frustrations of being an Opposition Member under the current undemocratic cabinet system which was made even worse on 29 July. I have endured that frustration, despite having worked in responsive organisations and roles, but I have continued, like some others over a long period of time, to represent residents in Council through “thick and thin” with the support of residents who obviously appreciate the effort that I am making personally to speak out for them.

    All I am asking now is that with the ground swell of public opinion that just a few residents do come forward now to start work in seeking election to the District Council for 2015/2016 in the knowledge that there is likely to be good support for independent and other opposition group candidates.

    Unless this does happen then then will be NO CHANGE.

    In my previous post I said “last chance”. I think it is because unless there are more people seriously prepared to become District Councillors willing to change the cabinet system between now and 2016 then I am beginning to think that I should re-consider my own situation. Please do not take this as a threat, it is not, but it is a natural consequence.

  23. You know what the impotency of all this has really made me sit back and think it over.

    The ruling Junta have the advantage of being one unit ( and centrally controlled ) and
    no doubt they have in place a strategy for the short / medium / long term (2014/15/16).

    Now whilst , just recently , the various ‘opposition’ Councillors have come together in a loose accord , I think it will need to be much more than that to yield results – namely a
    short / medium/ long term strategic approach ( tangiable objectives ).

    Now I am not suggesting we should abandon the democratic principles we all hold, and day to day item voting should still be a free vote to suit your constituents – but
    a coordinated approach to broader targets.

    Now being a ‘groundwork researcher ‘ for something like that would interest me , but
    going into detail on here is unwise – this site almost certainly a source of tactics for
    ” others” !!!!!!.

    The old amateur/ gentlemanly approach days are gone in the 21st century , even in
    Sport now you need a tactician/ medic/ coach and mind games tutor……….

  24. Can John or Chris answer me on this please. If, after 2016 RDC were to be “No overall control” would it then be possible for the full council to abolish the cabinet system completely and have everything decided by full council, or once a council has decided on the cabinet route is that it in perpetuity (or until central Government change their mind)

    • Christine, oh yes the council can certainly go back to a committee system if it wants
      This was a new freedom brought in by the national coalition government. In fact we were so pleased at this, that Ron and Chris submitted a motion to council thanking the government for this :

      “That this council welcomes the statement by the Liberal Conservative Coalition Government that they will allow councils to return to the committee system, should they wish to.”

      Even though this motion actually complimented their own flippin’ government , and only complimented them – it didn’t propose any changes in Rochford – The Tory group voted this down! Even hinting at the possibility of going back to a committee system was viewed as heresy.

  25. Following up @33

    I have had an encouraging couple of phone calls and an informal meeting since my posting.

    Can’t say anything more obviously but if the other oppostion groups also receive encouraging news then motivation for the future is boosted !!

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