AN ATTEMPT to force the man in charge of the borough council’s finances to resign has been labelled a ‘cheap political stunt’.
A row erupted in the council chamber after the Conservatives put forward a motion calling for Coun John Fisher, who is in charge of corporate assets, to quit following a damning report from auditor Grant Thornton.
The Standard reported three weeks ago how auditors had slammed Redditch Borough Council for not having a clear plan on how to make the millions of pounds of savings needed to be made in future years.
Coun Roger Bennett, chairman of the council’s audit and governance committee, told a meeting on Monday (October 20) the ‘looming financial crisis’ facing residents of the town was not being addressed. He added the ruling Labour group had demonstrated a ‘lack of understanding of the tough decisions required’ to identify savings.
“You can’t pursue a policy of ‘it’ll be alright on the night’ when any sensible person clearly understands plans have to be made. We all understand we are living in difficult times but doing nothing is not an option.”
Conservative group leader Juliet Brunner said residents had been ‘let down’ by a lack of attention to detail.
“Coun Fisher this has happened on your watch. The buck stops with you. You have no choice, you must do the decent thing now and resign.”
Further criticism was levelled at Coun Fisher and the Labour group, with Coun David Thain saying they ‘couldn’t run a bath let alone a local authority’.
But deputy council leader Greg Chance said they would not adopt the approach of the Conservative group in charge of Worcestershire County Council, which was to ‘slash and burn services with little or no regard to the impact on people who use and in many cases actually rely on them’.
He labelled the motion a ‘naive political stunt’ and said he was not surprised it was the Tories’ only contribution to the challenges faced by the council.
Coun Fisher said he would not resign and branded the move ‘political mischief making’.
“The plan is to protect and improve services as quickly and effectively as possible, to save money through hard work and innovation,” he added.
“The plan is to support our staff whose dedication is critical to everything we need to achieve. The plan is to fight for Redditch, its people, its services, its future.
“The plan is not to cut in haste and repent in leisure. The plan is not to play politics with people’s lives, people’s jobs and people’s services.”