Council leader accused of 'bringing the authority into disrepute'

Hannah Crouch

Hannah Crouch

Council leader accused of 'bringing the authority into disrepute'

The leader of Slough Borough Council (SBC) has been accused of ‘bringing the authority into disrepute’.

A motion which calls for the removal of Cllr Robert Anderson as council leader was published on SBC’s website yesterday (Thursday) in the agenda for an extraordinary council meeting due to be held next month.

It claims the council ‘has lost confidence’ in Cllr Anderson who has ‘adopted an authoritarian control’ which has led to councillors feeling ‘isolated and irrelevant’.

It also states Cllr Anderson has failed to protect vulnerable children in Slough following three critical Ofsted reports which have resulted in the council’s children’s services being taken over by an independent trust.

The motion read: “The decision to include two members ‘responsible for failure of children services’ in his cabinet highlights ‘his incompetence’.” The motion has been signed by five Labour councillors, two of whom have recently been elected as the new leader and deputy leader of the Slough Labour group.

The new Slough Labour leader, Cllr Sohail Munawar, said that following the Labour leadership vote he was assured by Cllr Anderson he would resign – but he failed to do so.

He said: “His actions have brought the council into disrepute.

“An honourable councillor would resign but Cllr Anderson is putting himself first and the people of Slough second.

“In addition Cllr Anderson has failed to take on the views of the majority of Labour councillors even though he has repeatedly been approached over the past years.”

Cllr Munawar also confirmed he will put himself forward to be the next leader of Slough Borough Council.

He added: “The Labour group will unite and think of delivering services to ensure Slough is safe, fair for all and prosperous.”

On Tuesday the council’s AGM had to be dramatically adjourned after Cllr Munawar’s motion to hold an extraordinary meeting was approved.

Cllr Sabia Hussain, who is the deputy leader of the Slough Labour group, said of the motion ‘the timing sucks’ but added that at the AGM there was ‘an overwhelming vote for change’.

She continued: “We signed the motion to prevent a two-tier system from being in place where the Labour group make the decisions and then the council adopts them.”

Cllr Hussain went on: “It is not a radical change and the public should not lose confidence in us.”

Cllr Anderson issued a statement in response to the bid to oust him.

In it he said: “Cllr Munawar was elected to be leader of the Labour group for the year 2016/17.

“Unfortunately he failed to understand that he and others had elected me as leader of the council for a four-year term in May 2014.

“When I pointed this out to him his comment was 'Oh! I suppose I should have read the constitution'.

“He never asked and I never offered to resign as leader of the council as he claims in his statement.

“I have at all times made it clear to the Labour Group members that I was and remain leader of the council.

“The Strong Leader model was introduced by the Labour Government in 2007 precisely to enable leaders to take decisions in the town's best interest without being beholden to internal pressure groups on a yearly basis.”

The statement continued: “It is sad that people who have been given a chance to serve in a cabinet with full collective responsibility sat for two years yet never raised any concerns till now.

“Leadership is about speaking out at the right time for the issue – not waiting for an opportunity to use it for personal gain.”

The extraordinary meeting is due to take place on Monday, June 6 at 7pm at The Centre in Farnham Road.

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