Rutland County Council has elected a group of young councillors for key roles with a view to giving them experience for future elections but not all agree it is the right time for the change.
Coun Charlotte Vernon (Con) takes over from Coun Chris Parsons (Con) as chairman, while Coun Edward Baines (Con) was elected as her vice chairman at the council’s annual meeting on Monday.
Coun Vernon, who is ward member for Ryhall and Casterton, was also re-elected as chairman of the development control and licensing committee.
The chairmen of scrutiny panels have also been elected. They include; Coun Lucy Stephenson (people); Coun Gale Waller (people); Coun Jeff Dale (places); and Coun James Lammie (resources), who is also chairman of the scrutiny commission.
Council leader Coun Roger Begy (Con) said: “I’m delighted that Charlotte has taken on this responsibility. She has shown already that she is has what it takes to fulfil this key role.
“This year we’ve looked to introduce our younger members, such as Charlotte and Coun James Lammie, who is in his 20s, to key roles with an eye on the county council elections in two years time. We want them to gain the experience they need for the years ahead.”
However, Coun Alan Walters (Ind) believes it is not the right time to elect younger members for key roles in the council.
Speaking after the meeting, he said: “There is a time and a place for young inexperienced councillors to be nurtured and developed into more responsible positions.
“However it is very difficult to accept that at a time when the authority is facing unprecedented challenges with diminishing resources, and with greater public scrutiny, the ruling Conservative Party should sit in a private meeting on the Thursday before annual council and decide to hand out jobs to each other, completely bypassing some of the most experienced, able and moderate of councillors.
“I fear that the council will be less democratic, and less responsive to the needs of the community following Monday’s appointments.”
Coun Marc Oxley (LibDem) and Coun Gale Waller (LibDem) have also expressed their concern over the number of Conservative councillors in key roles in the council.
Letters – page 13.