Row in council chamber over choice of new chairman

Evesham Journal: Councillor Pam Davey, far left, the new chairman of Worcestershire County Council. Councillor Pam Davey, far left, the new chairman of Worcestershire County Council.

A NEW chairman has been voted in at Worcestershire County Council - leading to a row about "political bias".

Councillor Pam Davey, a veteran Conservative, has become only the second woman in history to take on the popular ceremonial role at County Hall.

Her appointment was voted through amid farcical scenes in a full council meeting, with the Labour Party saying so many politicians are badly behaved they wanted an ex-prison worker to do it instead.

The chairman, who gets use of a personal driver and £20,000 Jaguar, spends the year representing the council to the wider public and holding the court at meetings.

The opposition Labour group said Councillor Joe Baker, who used to work in a high-security prison for dangerous inmates in Scotland, would be ideal to take on the role for the next 12 months instead.

The controlling Conservative group insisted it should be Cllr Davey and voted Labour down, leading to ugly scenes in the chamber.

Labour also tried to make Cllr Baker the vice-chair, but that was then refused, and said it was time to dump the use of the Jaguar XF, but it failed.

Councillor Peter McDonald, Labour group leader, said: "Joe is not wet behind the ears, he's been in politics 30 years and is a former lecturer in psychology and sociology in Scotland, as well as being a former prison officer.

"Those skills in understanding people and being able to communicate with them are extremely valuable, he would listen to us and certainly make meetings more enjoyable than they are now.

"He knows how to control rowdy inmates, he'd be ideal. He'd also take away the Jaguar straightaway."

Conservative councillors refused to get into a debate and called for a vote, which they won by 34 to 16.

Cllr Davey, a Droitwich councillor, takes over from Councillor Gordon Yarrington, a fellow Conservative.

Cllr Yarrington told the chamber it had been "a great honour" to do the role.

She becomes only the second women to do the job after Mary Drinkwater, a statistic Liberal Democrat Councillor Tom Wells called "outrageous".

A Lib Dem bid to get their group leader, Councillor Liz Tucker, elected as chairman also failed.

The chairman attends around 200 public events a year as the council's ceremonial figurehead, and during meetings at County Hall do a role similar to that of the speaker in the House of Commons.

Comments (5)

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12:44am Wed 28 May 14

Jabbadad says...

The labour group should not complain like school kids, they have elected their Mayors in the City Council for years in the same manner,
Having said that I watched on Webb Cam, Coun Yarrington when he was installed as Chair, and he fumbled his way through that meeting and most that followed. Without the valued help from Trish Haines and the Solicitor sat ether side the meetings well may have come to a stop.
And I fear that again having watched Coun Davey we are in for more of the same.
Perhaps new Chairs should be elected by ability as well.
The labour group should not complain like school kids, they have elected their Mayors in the City Council for years in the same manner, Having said that I watched on Webb Cam, Coun Yarrington when he was installed as Chair, and he fumbled his way through that meeting and most that followed. Without the valued help from Trish Haines and the Solicitor sat ether side the meetings well may have come to a stop. And I fear that again having watched Coun Davey we are in for more of the same. Perhaps new Chairs should be elected by ability as well. Jabbadad
  • Score: 2

4:03am Wed 28 May 14

Rita Jelfs says...

Sounds to me like the boys didn't like the girls getting what they saw as their 'entitlements', even though the girl had the numbers. Or was it purely pigs fighting over the trough.
Sounds to me like the boys didn't like the girls getting what they saw as their 'entitlements', even though the girl had the numbers. Or was it purely pigs fighting over the trough. Rita Jelfs
  • Score: -1

12:26pm Wed 28 May 14

Hwicce says...

More childish antics to turn off the voters - when will these people grow up.
More childish antics to turn off the voters - when will these people grow up. Hwicce
  • Score: 0

3:26pm Wed 28 May 14

Allan Whitehead says...

Yes call labour childish, while conservative are being peevish and doing what they are very good at causing unrest when they have control.
Arguing who is going to be chairperson of the Council. Surely, selecting a chairperson (Mayor) should be straightforward. Most councils elect their chairperson by a simple formulae Total number of seat = 52 Conservatives 31,
Labour & Co-oP labour 12. Therefore, Conservatives 31 seats divided by 52 x 4
(31/52 x 4 = 2 Mayors consecutively. Labour (12/52 x 4 = 1 Mayor) Lib-Dems (3/52 x 4 = 0 Mayors.
Hypothetically 2014 - 2015 Tory 2016 Labour 2017 conservative. Elections May might alter the formula numbers. Say Labour 21 seats lib-dems 12 seats Conservative 19 seats we would then have 2 labour consecutively Libs 1 and 1 conservative. No argument no fuss then each Party would select their own with the formula removing other parties’ involvement. No doubt, periodically a member chosen to be Mayor would also be up for re-election, so the electorate would select a councillor, and a Mayor
Yes call labour childish, while conservative are being peevish and doing what they are very good at causing unrest when they have control. Arguing who is going to be chairperson of the Council. Surely, selecting a chairperson (Mayor) should be straightforward. Most councils elect their chairperson by a simple formulae Total number of seat = 52 Conservatives 31, Labour & Co-oP labour 12. Therefore, Conservatives 31 seats divided by 52 x 4 (31/52 x 4 = 2 Mayors consecutively. Labour (12/52 x 4 = 1 Mayor) Lib-Dems (3/52 x 4 = 0 Mayors. Hypothetically 2014 - 2015 Tory 2016 Labour 2017 conservative. Elections May might alter the formula numbers. Say Labour 21 seats lib-dems 12 seats Conservative 19 seats we would then have 2 labour consecutively Libs 1 and 1 conservative. No argument no fuss then each Party would select their own with the formula removing other parties’ involvement. No doubt, periodically a member chosen to be Mayor would also be up for re-election, so the electorate would select a councillor, and a Mayor Allan Whitehead
  • Score: 0

5:24pm Wed 28 May 14

denon says...

Strange photo......Pam Davey is not the person on the left .....who are the other two
Strange photo......Pam Davey is not the person on the left .....who are the other two denon
  • Score: 0

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