NO change at the top for Dorset Council – primary council roles are to all remain the same for another year.
The annual board meeting, held Tuesday night, voted to return the entire Tory Cabinet – with Chairman Val Pothecary and Vice Chairman Mike Parkes.
Cllr Spencer Flower, who has led the board since May 2019, when the Unitarian Council was established, said he remained committed to his first-year campaign pledge to be bold and ambitious and to reap the benefits of the combination of previous tips in one.
He praised the staff and councilors who he said had done a “ fantastic job ” supporting the county through what he described as the unprecedented era of Covid.
Cllr Flower said he would continue to work between parties, although when the role of vice-chairman was challenged by Weymouth Liberal Howard Legg he lost 47-29 to Tory Mike Parkes.
The meeting agreed to a recommendation to continue to meet virtually with delegated authority to senior management to make decisions of committees and boards. These will be adopted as âfocus onâ decisions until further changes are made to the law.
Cllr Flower said he was disappointed with the government’s decision not to allow virtual meetings to continue as they had been and said he hoped the government would listen to advice leaders across the country and allow online meetings to continue.
Council lawyer Jonathan Mair said officers could not be linked to the obligation to stick to “ thoughtful ” decisions if they believed the committee, or the council as a whole, had wrong – but said he found it inconceivable that an officer would go against “anxious” decision.
Dorchester’s independent adviser Les Fry also said he was disappointed with the government’s decision to effectively end virtual meetings. He said Dorset Council, like others, did not have enough space for all councilors to meet while complying with current Covid restrictions, although that may change if restrictions are lifted in the third week of June.
Despite the praise for the virtual meetings, the evening was marked by a number of councilors who were unable to vote electronically for technical reasons.