Opposition seeks to oust Babergh District Council leader

Cllr Jennie Jenkins
Cllr Jennie Jenkins

Opposition councillors have put forward a motion to try to oust Babergh District Council’s leader, over issues surrounding the ongoing proposals to merge with Mid Suffolk.

The motion, brought forward by Great Cornard’s Labour councillor Tony Bavington, is calling for the removal of Conservative leader Jennie Jenkins, and the election of a new leader, citing her handling of the proposal to combine the two councils.

MSFP tony bavington

MSFP tony bavington

Set to be discussed at Babergh’s full council meeting on Tuesday, the motion also moves for assurances on the suggested merger.

This comes as a public consultation was launched on Monday, which asks residents, businesses and other stakeholders to comment on the proposals.

The two councils said they will also be commissioning an independent telephone poll to sample 2,000 residents in each district.

Cllr Jenkins said at the launch: “We all need to make our residents’ council tax go further and, if creating a new council will allow us to do that, we owe it to our residents to at least look into the idea. But we can’t do this alone, we need everyone to get involved.”

However, the idea has been controversial since it emerged earlier this year, because similar proposals were defeated following a public referendum in 2011.

Cllr Bavington told the Free Press: “The public in Babergh voted decisively not to merge. No party has put in any election publicity that they want to revisit this, so this has suddenly happened out of nowhere.

“If this is to be revisited, there has to be another referendum, and Jennie Jenkins will not guarantee one.

“I’m outraged this is happening. It’s thoroughly undemocratic. This is nothing to do with party politics – it’s about democracy.”

The motion states that no money should be allocated in the 2018-2019 budget and no staff time used for the purposes of the merger without full council approval.

The second point says a public referendum on the merger must be guaranteed, and votes be counted separately, as in 2011, so only a result in favour from the Babergh electorate will constitute a mandate.

The third point calls for Jennie Jenkins to be removed, claiming she has declined to guarantee a referendum, and for a new leader to be elected.