Opposition leader walks out of meeting after row with council leader

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

adrianw@baylismedia.co.uk
Opposition leader walks out of meeting after angry exchange with leader

Tory councillor Wayne Strutton (left) and council leader James Swindlehurst

The leader of the opposition walked out of a meeting of Slough council this evening (Monday) after clashing with the Labour leader.

Conservative group leader Cllr Wayne Strutton, (Con, Haymill and Lynch Hill) attended a meeting of the cabinet, chaired by leader of the council James Swindlehurst (Lab & Co-Op, Cippenham Green).

Early on, Cllr Strutton complained about problems he has had with the council’s IT and phone systems – an ongoing issue acknowledged by the administration in earlier meetings.

Cllr Swindlehurst said there would be a ‘proper paper’ coming soon that would address this.

Nonetheless, Cllr Strutton felt that the administration was playing down the issue and making out that the problems were temporary.

“It’s not a one-off, it’s been five weeks of failure of connectivity,” he said.

“You have been talking for five or six years about improving our IT – the proof is in the pudding and we’re yet to eat any of that pudding.”

Wishing to move the meeting on, Cllr Swindlehurst told Cllr Strutton that his ‘issue with the photocopier this afternoon’ was not a governance issue and therefore, not relevant.

Cllr Strutton raised the matter again later in the evening and Cllr Swindlehurst further criticised him for bringing up points he did not feel were pertinent to the matter at hand.

“Just make your point. It’s not the time for political grandstanding,” he said.

“You’re the king of political grandstanding,” said Cllr Strutton in return, leading to further angry exchanges and raised voices between the pair.

Cllr Strutton then asked for a moment to compose himself because Cllr Swindlehurst’s tone had made him angry.

But the heated exchange continued – and soon afterwards, Cllr Strutton declared he was leaving.

“I don’t want to be in a meeting where there’s a bully, and officers won’t stop (them),” he said, standing up.

Cllr Swindlehurst responded:

“I’m the chair of this meeting, please observe the rules and make your point concisely. If you can’t do that, it’s best that you go.”

Cllr Strutton then walked out, even though there were four more items left on the agenda.

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