Exmouth councillor's resignation from 'sinking ship' Independent group 'inevitable' says Conservative chairman

PUBLISHED: 15:28 10 September 2019 | UPDATED: 15:34 10 September 2019

Conservatives chairman Bruce de Saram has responded to Paul Millar's resignation from the Independent group. Picture: Daniel Wilkins/Bruce de Saram/Paul Millar

Conservatives chairman Bruce de Saram has responded to Paul Millar's resignation from the Independent group. Picture: Daniel Wilkins/Bruce de Saram/Paul Millar

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The resignation of an Exmouth councillor from the ruling Independent group has been branded as 'inevitable' by the Conservative chairman.

Councillor Bruce de Saram said 'others are likely to follow' after Cllr Paul Miilar sensationally resigned from the Independent group, effectively cancelling out its majority at district council.

In an email seen by the Journal, Cllr Millar criticised senior management at East Devon District Council (EDDC) for not consulting him on policy decisions.

Cllr De Saram said that criticism of senior management is 'hugely unfair and inappropriate' when they have no right of reply.

When approached by the Journal, Cllr Millar said his comments were based on his own personal experience of the few months he was on the district council cabinet.

Cllr De Saram said: "Councillor Paul Millar is the first senior member of the administration to jump ship before it sinks, whilst blaming others for his decision with others likely to follow.

"Clearly Paul Millar doesn't yet fully grasp the difference between strategic and operational roles on a council, which I find puzzling, given his previous role as an advisor to a Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson.

"You might have thought he would understand something of the democratic process and the slow pace of it at times.

"There is huge democratic input and the officers at EDDC do an excellent job on behalf of all residents of East Devon in what is a very challenging work environment.

"Councillor Millar needs to understand that 'changing the world' takes more than three months."

Cllr De Saram went on to say he looks forward to seeing Cllr Millar at future meetings as a 'genuine independent'.

Cllr Millar's resignation now means the council is deadlocked at 19 Independents and Conservative members apiece.

The Conservative members are set to hold a meeting next week where they will discuss the party's next move.

Cllr Andrew Moulding, leader of the Conservatives at EDDC, said: "It is too early to say what we will do.

"This could be the start of more people moving away from the Independent group."

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