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Opposition leader says councillor’s resignation highlights failure of Conservative leadership at Lichfield District Council

The resignation of a Conservative councillor after less than six months in office has highlighted a failure in leadership, according to the leader of the opposition group at Lichfield District Council.

Joanne Grange

Joanne Grange

Cllr Joanne Grange resigned her post amid a row over planning permission for a new house in Lichfield. She said the decision to “relax” some requirements in order to approve the scheme, meant the local authority was going against its own guidance – as well as opening the door for future inappropriate developments.

The Stowe ward representative added that she had lost faith in the council’s ability to represent the views of residents in Lichfield and Burntwood.

Cllr Sue Woodward, leader of the Labour opposition group at Lichfield District Council, said Cllr Grange would be a loss to the chamber.

“I am sorry to hear of Joanne’s resignation,” she said. “In a very short time, she has proven herself to be a capable and conscientious councillor, willing to take a stand and ask the awkward questions that need to be asked.

Cllr Sue Woodward

Cllr Sue Woodward

“Let’s face it, too few of the controlling group even ask the important questions, let alone reflect the views of the people who elected them.

“I regret that she won’t be there to continue asking the difficult questions about the failure of the Friarsgate project in particular as the leadership at Lichfield District Council has left many questions still unanswered.”

Cllr Woodward has previously called for Conservative leader Cllr Mike Wilcox to resign following the demise of the Friarsgate scheme.

And she said the latest resignation was a sign that change was needed.

“This again is evidence of a failure of leadership at the council,” she said.

““I completely agree with Joanne Grange’s comment about the lack of strategic and organisational direction. It’s easy to lead a council where your party has overwhelming control, in Lichfield District Council’s case 41 Conservatives, five Labour and one Lib Dem. The true test of leadership is when the going gets tough.

“Having now suffered three Cabinet resignations, the stepping down of a recently-elected councillor and a vote of confidence that I hear was far from decisive, I call again upon the leader to consider his position.”

Cllr Wilcox has said he was “extremely disappointed” by Cllr Grange’s decision to step down, but insisted councillor’s had to rise above their own self-interest.

Cllr Mike Wilcox

Cllr Mike Wilcox

“I am extremely disappointed by Joanne’s decision to resign as a District councillor and sorry that she felt unable either to speak directly to myself or another colleague to see if the issues raised could have been dealt with before deciding to resign,” he said. “I will however ensure that the issues raised around the planning policies and processes are considered as a matter of urgency.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank her for her contribution in the relatively short time she has been on the council.

“I also believe that being a councillor gives you the opportunity to contribute along with colleagues in challenging and debating those areas where you think this is required, rather than stepping away and trying to influence from outside of the council.

“Sometimes as councillors we have to rise above our self interest and accept that we will not always win the particular argument, but what we do is to continue in our role.”

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  1. Cllr Jon O'Hagan

    1st August, 2018 at 9:46 am

    Sue Woodward likes to spin things to fit in with her party political point scoring.

    Joanne was involved in this planning issue long before becoming a councillor. It is something that she feels strongly about, and undoubtedly she will continue to campaign on the issue.

    Sue wants to tell of a Group in disarray. This is not true. We are working together for Lichfield District.

  2. Nick

    1st August, 2018 at 9:58 am

    Doesn’t look like it from where I’m sitting, Jon.

  3. wilf

    1st August, 2018 at 10:12 am

    In all fairness Coun O’Hagan, Mrs Grange’s comments tearing apart Mike Wilcox’s version of events leading to her departure on the other article would suggest all is not well at the top table.

  4. Flossy

    1st August, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    If this is working together you need a new language!

  5. Steve

    1st August, 2018 at 3:25 pm

    Cllr O’Hagan. I have had dealings with the Planning Department, for personal and local reasons. I was not being a NIMBY, I had genuine concerns. All of which were ignored and all of what I said came true.

    They always tell me they have too much work and not enough people.

    The make decisions and do not have to live with the consequences. Often visiting the area for only a few minutes.

    They refuse to listen or discuss any issues.

    They are making crazy decisions. The problem is, this then becomes the precedent, as future developers will question why development A was allowed to do exactly what they want to do.

    Look at some of the developments they approve. Roads blocked by lorries. Vans parked all over the pavements, forcing school children to walk in busy traffic….. some developments would be fine, if they were in isolation. They however have to get materials, builders, plumbers….. this all needs to be taken into consideration, but never is.

  6. Alex

    1st August, 2018 at 6:34 pm

    The planning department at Lichfield District Council is only interested in self interest. Mike Wilcox should be sacked along with other incompetent individuals.

  7. nellygb

    1st August, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    Pot, Kettle, Black springs to mind here councillor. I would expect the leader of the opposition to take complete advantage over all the cock ups and resignations but with all the back stabbing going on within the ranks we can only assume all is not well on the blue side aboard Her Majesty’s Ship LDC