New East Devon District Council Leader elected

Paul Arnott. Picture: Archant

Paul Arnott. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

The new leader of East Devon District Council has been elected.

Councillor Paul Arnott, leader of the Democratic Alliance, was voted into the role on Friday morning, following the resignation last week of the previous leader of the council, Cllr Ben Ingham.

The extraordinary full council meeting began on Thursday night but was adjourned midway through the initial vote to elect a new leader when the live stream of the meeting was removed from YouTube for violating its terms of service.

This happened moments after one councillor was heard swearing in the background having not muted their microphone.

Cllr Arnott was voted in by 32 votes to 20, with eight abstentions, over Cllr Andrew Moulding, leader of the Conservative Group, who had also been nominated as a potential leadership candidate. The previous leader of the council, Cllr Ingham, had voted for Cllr Moulding.

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The 60-strong council is now being run by an administration of 31 councillors from both the Democratic Alliance and the Independent Progressive Group.

The Democratic Alliance consists of the East Devon Alliance, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party, and three Independents, while the IPG consists of seven Independent councillors.

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Speaking on Friday morning at the extraordinary council meeting, Cllr Arnott, the East Devon Alliance leader, said: “In May 2019 the East Devon electorate sent a clear message to the council that after nearly five decades of Conservative dominance they wanted change. People voted to reduce what had been 45 Conservative councillors five years earlier to just 19.

“Despite the huge defeat, the new leadership went for a business as usual approach, and last month, this approach collapsed after the Conservatives pushed for a vote of no confidence in the leader and his own group split down the middle.

“The Democratic Alliance and the Independent Progressive Group now have a majority on the council and it gives it the stability it has lacked since Cllr Ingham attempted a council of no overall control.” Cllr Arnott, in appointing his cabinet team, announced that three new roles would be created, with the corporate resources portfolio also looking at the recovery from COVID-19, a new climate change portfolio and a democracy and transparency portfolio created. Five assistant cabinet roles will also be created.

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