New mayor asked to share out top council jobs

The Mayor of Lyme Regis, Councillor Brian Larcombe MBE

THE new Mayor of Lyme Regis, Councillor Brian Larcombe MBE, has been told it is “unhealthy” for him to be taking on so many of the lead roles within the town council.

Councillor Larcombe’s predecessor, Councillor Michaela Ellis, made a plea for him to share more of the top jobs with other members, as she lost a bid to become chairman of the influential Strategy & Finance Committee.

Both Councillors Larcombe and Ellis were nominated for chairman at last week’s meeting. Before the vote was taken, Councillor Ellis pointed out that Councillor Larcombe already chaired full council as mayor and had recently been elected chairman of the Human Resources (HR) Committee and vice-chairman of the Planning Committee.

“I believe it would be very unhealthy for you to take on the chairmanship of this committee,” she commented.

“You should be allowing other people to be taking up roles on the council, otherwise you as mayor and your deputy mayor have leading roles in every committee and I don’t think that’s healthy.”

Deputy mayor Councillor Jeff Scowen, who was recently elected chairman of the Tourism, Community & Publicity Committee, said Councillor Larcombe was the “best and most experienced person for the job”.

“The fact that he has Human Resources, a minor committee, as chairman is neither here nor there,” he added.

“I also point out to Councillor Ellis; talk about sharing things around, she has been mayor four times.”

Councillor Larcombe said chairing the HR Committee was “part of the undertaking as mayor”, which he said Councillor Ellis had acknowledged herself when she nominated him for the post.

He added that he only took on the vice-chairmanship of planning to help Councillor Graham Turner in his first role as chairman, and because no one else stood for the position. He said he planned to step down from this role when the opportunity arose.

Councillor Ellis replied: “When I was proposed for vice-chairman of Strategy & Finance last year, Councillor Stan Williams questioned the fact that the mayor should be taking on so many roles on committees, and I only had one role to do besides that.

“For Councillor Scowen to say I’ve done four years as mayor; I’ve done two terms of two years and there were eight years in between them. I don’t see that as a factor to do with this.”

Councillor Larcombe commented: “I do agree we have to look to succession on this council. Only half the councillors have been on the council before so it’s a matter of helping people into positions rather than having them dropped into a chairmanship fairly raw.

“The vice-chairmanship of planning I only took because no one else stood, and chairmanship of HR is part and parcel of the mayor’s role, so the only pure committee left and the one I’m really interested in is this one.

“I think it fits hand in glove with the kind of things I have ideas on and I hope the committee will come with me on these, to help the future relationship between the town council, Dorset Council, and a number of other strategic and financial issues.”

Councillor Stan Williams added: “I really think it’s absolutely vital at this stage we have the councillors who can do the job in the best way and I really believe that Brian is the one for this job. Half of the council is new and we need the people with the most experience taking on lead jobs.”

Councillor Larcombe said that Councillor Richard Doney had also expressed an interest in standing as chairman of Strategy & Finance and proposed him for the role. However, as Councillor Doney was absent from the meeting, the town clerk said he could not accept the nomination.

Councillor Larcombe then won the vote against Councillor Ellis, eight votes to four.

Councillor Ellis then stood against Councillor John Broom for vice-chairman, but also lost this vote.

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