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A councillor says he will now “campaign for a new strategic direction” after stepping down from his role as chairman of Lichfield District Council’s main overview and scrutiny committee.

Lichfield District Council House

Cllr Alistair Little confirmed his decision to leave the key post in the wake of controversy over a miscounted vote on the future of Lichfield city centre’s masterplan.

The meeting of the economic growth, environment and development overview and scrutiny committee had originally indicated a vote had been against approving recommendations on the draft masterplan to go forward to the cabinet next month.

But the council has since said a review of the video has shown that the count was incorrect and that the vote had in fact backed the move.

Cllr Little told Lichfield Live the decision to go back on the original vote had been the final straw.

Alastair Little

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“I have pushed for a strategic view from cabinet in terms of borrowing, the mid term financial strategy, long term plans for the district including Burntwood and rurals.

“It has been a committee view these points should be included, yet they are rarely listened to and the cabinet carry on regardless.

“The scrutiny process has become just that – a process, and I now feel I need to sit on the back bench and campaign for a new strategic direction rather than be a critical friend to their direction of travel.

“Recent events have shown we are heading in the wrong direction and I hope the cabinet when discussing the masterplan reject it as a lost cause or maybe add a Burntwood plan and rural plan to the file and spread funds around the district as a whole.”

Cllr Alastair Little, Lichfield District Council

Cllr Little has also questioned the council’s decision to review and reverse the decision made in the meeting.

“The vote at the last committee was announced by the chairman but has been withdrawn by an officer – I can’t see how this is democratic.

“I would like to hear from the committee chairman prior to the results being changed.

“It would be far better for an internal investigation to happen at officer level including views of members, rather than statements being released ad hoc.”

Cllr Alastair Little, Lichfield District Council

“Technical issues”

Christie Tims, monitoring officer for Lichfield District Council, said “technical issues” were to blame for a show of hands not being counted correctly.

“A vote took place to show whether committee members endorsed the Lichfield city centre masterplan.

“Unfortunately, due to technical issues, the vote was announced inaccurately.

“As monitoring officer, I have reviewed the recording of the meeting, and I can confirm that six members voted in favour of endorsing the plan and five voted against it, rather than four voting in favour and five against as was announced at the meeting.

“The minutes from the meeting will reflect this true result and will need to be signed as a correct record when the committee meets again.”

Christie Tims, Lichfield District Council

Click below to see the disputed vote count taking place:

The council has moved meetings online during the coronavirus crisis.

“We are now reviewing the process of how we hold remote meeting votes, to make sure there is no confusion while remaining transparent to viewers.

“We will be updating our guidance and procedures and working with members to make sure they understand the changes.”

Christie Tims, Lichfield District Council

Ross

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.

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