Sacked deputy leader of Central Beds Council could seek cross party administration to "bring stability" during "period of turmoil"

Central Bedfordshire Council chambersCentral Bedfordshire Council chambers
Central Bedfordshire Council chambers
Former CBC deputy leader reported to be seeking power sharing administration on the local authority, as support wanes among fellow Independents v.1

The former Independent deputy leader of Central Bedfordshire Council is seeking the potential support of Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors to end the current “turmoil” and form a new administration on the local authority.

Independent Biggleswade West councillor Hayley Whitaker topped a poll among the Independent group of councillors to establish a new leadership structure.

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Councillor Whitaker told the local democracy reporting service last night (Wednesday, July 10): “After a difficult few weeks, I’m now leading the Independent network and doing everything I can to bring stability to the council during this period of turmoil.

“We’ll always seek to work with other groups where it will benefit all of our residents and not compromise our values, whether that be in administration or opposition.

“It saddens me greatly that political games have been placed ahead of working for the residents that elected us. My integrity and standards mean more to me than any political position, and I’d rather be in opposition than comprise them.”

The power sharing move is set to continue behind the scenes in the run-up to a CBC full council meeting next Thursday (July 18), when councillors are due to vote on the next administration.

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As the largest group on CBC, the Independents took control under Independent Potton councillor Adam Zerny, after last year’s local elections.

Councillor Whitaker was sacked from her executive roles, after challenging councillor Zerny for his position as council leader. But within days and after a year in charge, councillor Zerny revealed his intention to formally step down next week.

Two other executive members resigned from their roles prior to councillor Zerny’s decision. The discord among the ruling Independent administration has continued this week, following on from councillor Whitaker’s leadership challenge.

Conservative CBC Biggleswade East councillor Grant Fage revealed on social media that six Independent councillors have left the ruling group.

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“That leaves the current Independent administration with 21 seats out of 63, one ahead of the Conservatives,” he wrote on Facebook.

“Councillor Hayley Whitaker won with 12 votes, so is now likely to be trying to form a new administration. This could possibly involve an agreement with the Liberal Democrats, Labour and the Green Party.

“If councillor Whitaker can become leader of the council, while potentially exciting for Biggleswade, her challenge to the previous leader appears to have had serious consequences for the stability of the administration.

“Change is clearly under way at CBC. My motivation remains to deliver for Biggleswade and to continue working constructively with all other councillors, as I’ve done for more than a year with the previous administration.”

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Independent Leighton Linslade West councillor Steve Owen came second in the poll with seven votes. There were three abstentions, and four of the Independent group decided not to participate.

A social media message to the local democracy reporting service claimed councillor Whitaker’s Independent group has lost 11 (councillors) during the last 36 hours.

Councillor Whitaker was understood to be asking Labour councillors and the Liberal Democrats for support to form a coalition to run a new administration.