Harlow Labour leader claims Tories in power is “undemocratic”

News / Sun 26th May 2024 at 04:39pm

THE LEADER OF Harlow Labour has claimed that the present position of the Tories in power is “undemocratic’.

Councillor James Griggs said: “The claims by Harlow Conservatives to have a majority and the authority to form an administration were left looking ridiculous this week when, with both Labour and Conservatives having 16 Councillors, they were left with the unedifying spectacle of relying upon the casting vote of the Chair to prop them up.

Having won the popular vote in Harlow, Labour put forward nominees for the Chair, Vice Chair and Leader. All of these votes were decided by the Chairs casting vote.

“It is surely a bizarre and undemocratic quirk of the constitution when clinging on to power rests in the hands of a Chair appointed by themselves as the previous Conservative administration.

And why, you may ask, are we in this unsatisfactory situation?
The answer is Cllr James Leppard.
Selected by the Conservatives.
Elected as a Conservative.
Suspended by the Conservatives.

“Mr Leppard stands accused of racism and Islamophobia and, we’re told, is currently suspended from the Conservative Party pending an investigation. He is still listed as a Conservative on the council website.
Immediately prior to the election the Conservative leader declared he hoped for a result from the investigation ‘within days’, it is now over three weeks since polling day and still we have no answer.

Mr Leppard, perhaps unsurprisingly, failed to appear at the Council meeting on May 23rd, the first one since the election.

“This situation is totally unacceptable, it is damaging to the reputation and integrity of the council as demonstrated by the optics of the voting for Chair, Vice Chair and Leader earlier this week.

“The Conservatives have to sort their mess out pronto, democracy and common sense demand nothing less. It’s making Harlow Council a laughing stock”.

We have contacted the Harlow Conservatives and invited them to reply.

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18 Comments for Harlow Labour leader claims Tories in power is “undemocratic”:

Nicholas Taylor
2024-05-26 18:28:22

It is in fact 39 days since Cllr Leppard was suspended from the Conservative Party, long enough surely to look at the offending post and to make a decision. I believe more people voted Labour than Conservative in the recent elections, ending up with 16 seats each. This would be a golden opportunity for both Parties to come together in a coalition for the benefit of the town and share responsibility for leading services.

2024-05-26 18:33:56

Hopefully Mr Leppard is not hounded out by the ultra left wing protest group Hope not Hate who's sole purpose is change of government at any cost, a group that have been very silent on the antisemitic marches in the UK, maybe it should be renamed Hate not hope, good luck James take the fight to them.

2024-05-26 18:42:29

Are we surprised that this weeks leader of Harlow Labour does not understand the meaning of the word suspended. Suspended does not mean expelled and therefore the democratically elected Councillor in question remains a Conservative. His absence at the meeting in question is a result of his suspension and therefore not permitted to preform his duties until the suspension is lifted or he is expelled from the party. The desperation of Harlow Labour, despite their pre-election hubris, is both laughable and embarrassing.

David Forman
2024-05-26 19:14:28

Harlow Labour Party clearly haven't read the Council's Constitution, Part 4 Article 1 in particular. This section explains council procedural rules such as voting, the majority required for a motion to be passed and the use of the chairman's casting vote. As the Conservatives had the Chair prior to the local elections councillor Andrew Johnson remained in the Chair's role until the meeting last Thursday selected a new one. The vote was tied 16-16 and councillor Johnson exercised his casting vote to retain his Chair's role. The following vote was for Leader of the Council which was again tied 16-16. Again the Chair used his casting vote to make Conservative councillor Dan Swords Leader of the Council and thus empowered Dan to form an administration and appoint Cabinet members. All done in strict accordance with the Council's Constitution and statute law, namely the Local Government Act. See sections 21.1 and 21.2 of following link https://moderngov.harlow.gov.uk/documents/s24981/Constitution%20Part%204%20-%20Article%201%20-%20Council%20Procedure%20Rules.pdf

2024-05-26 19:23:42

Well pointed out David, worrying that Labour seem to have little or no real understanding of procedures and rules, yet somehow want the residents of Harlow to trust them to run the Council!

Connie Sosa
2024-05-26 20:27:55

Dear Cllr. Griggs, As I am not a politician, just a citizen, I will not delve on the petty point-scoring, nor the procedural matters clearly explained by Mr Forman. I do take exception, though, with your phrase: “Mr Leppard, perhaps unsurprisingly, failed to appear at the Council meeting on May 23rd”. I find the “perhaps unsurprising” part silly self-centered at least, and maybe even callous. I am afraid that he gave notice that his mother (my mother-in-law) had passed away last week and he needed to sort out funeral arrangements with his siblings (on different time zones). Please, Mr Griggs, stop projecting your own sense of self-importance on other people’s actions. When you hear the sound of hooves, think of horses, not zebras. I hope you do not find yourself in such a painful situation while having to defend yourself from spurious accusations.

2024-05-26 20:38:11

Harlow Labour is a total shambles. They got rid of Vince, who is useless and replaced him with another joker, Griggs! Who would vote for Vince is MP when he was rejected as leader of the council? Griggs is another useless figurehead who has never delivered anything!

2024-05-26 22:22:01

16 seats Labour 16 seats Conservative. Unethical, not common sense, not what people voted for and makes the constitution of the Council an ass to rely on a technical point to give any Councillor what is a double vote. Chairpersons like the Speaker at Parliament should be entirely independent.

Mark Gough
2024-05-26 23:29:40

Just like to point out that the Chair of Council and the Speaker of the House have a casting vote in the event of a tied vote. Convention is that they vote of the status quo. Therefore the Chair of the Council did vote for the status quo, namely a Conservative Administration. Nic, that would be a lovely idea, but would never happen in practice. A Rainbow Coalition has been tried on occasions in certain places and failed miserably! If Cllr.Leppard is removed from the Conservative Party then a By-election should take place, as the people of Latton Bush and Stewards voted him in as a Conservative, not an Independent! Mark Gough -Leader Harlow UKIP.

Brian Aston
2024-05-27 08:25:10

Election 101: If you want to get elected, the best place to start is by actually telling people what you stand for. In the run up to the council elections we had numerous leaflets from the Conservatives, one leaflet from the Green Party (but they were probably thinking of the environment). Nothing from Labour, nothing from the Liberal Democrats. And now Mr Vince expects us to vote for him in the General Election, basically on the basis that "He is not the tories", oh and the word "Change". Hopefully he tries a little bit harder to tell people what he stands for, not what Kier Starmer stands for.

Guy Flegman
2024-05-27 08:49:49

I agree with others. What is going on in someone’s head when they loose the council election then think they will win the parliamentary seat. The mind boggles. Still as the lunatics are now well and truly running the asylum anything is possible. Probably more importantly, are we going to have a Tory candidate and if so who.

James Gamble
2024-05-27 12:40:24

The point which most people on this post choose to ignore is that this issue should have been dealt with by now. Prejudism of any form is not acceptable. Either he is innocent of the charges and therefore should be exonerated and allowed back or he is guilty and thus should be dismissed and a by-election held swiftly to solve any issue of the chair having to have a casting vote.

2024-05-27 14:28:31

Guy Flegman, you say Chris Vince ie Labour lost the election but YH reported that labour got more votes than the Conservatives. Our parliamentary and council elections rely on a first past the post system which usually means the winning party doesn't have a majority of votes caste. Chris Vince didn't do a great job in the run up to the locals, I hope he learns from this but frankly a Labour govt including him has to be better than a Tory one.

2024-05-28 18:01:48

So is James the leader and candidate for Harlow. Or Chris like I keep seeing the adverts on YouTube. Please explain???

Mr Grumpy
2024-05-28 20:50:26

This constant sniping between the parties is why I am fed up with politics.

David Forman
2024-05-29 09:35:28

The Forde Report was commissioned by the Labour Party's National Executive Committee in April 2020 and published in July 2022 it's findings into Labour's handling of Antisemitism cases. The report recommended new processes with strict time limits at each stage. It said on page 123: "the period between initial complaint and the decision by the case examiners (whether or not to refer to a hearing) should not normally exceed three months; and the period between the initial complaint and final resolution should not normally exceed nine months." This makes resolution of councillor Leppard's case viable up until 18 January 2025 by Labour's standards. See https://labour.org.uk/resources/the-forde-report/#:~:text=On%2019%20July%202022%2C%20the,it%20to%20the%20Labour%20Party

2024-05-29 10:19:24

When is M&S coming back to Harlow as promised by Dan Swords? And what is happening about James Leopard? Any news yet?

James Gamble
2024-05-29 20:13:02

David Forman, what are you afraid of? Is if fair to leave an innocent man accused of such a vile accusation. Deal with it now.

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