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Current and former council leaders in social media spat

A war of words between the current and former council leaders has broken out on social media.

On Thursday, ex-leader Simon Dudley was critical of the Conservative administration’s decision to remove weekly black bin collections from its draft budget proposals.

Mr Dudley also shared out a link to a petition, which was created by another ex-Tory councillor, Ed Wilson, calling for weekly bin collections to be retained.

The proposed cut is one of many included in the draft, which seeks to save £8m to make up for the financial losses caused by COVID-19 and past financial mismanagement.

Mr Dudley said: “Councillors are good at spending your money on things the majority of local residents don’t care about when this saving of £175,000 pa is derisory given the loss of service to residents.”

The comments sparked outrage in Mr Dudley’s successor as council leader, Andrew Johnson (Con, Hurley and Walthams).

“A truly remarkable statement frankly,” Cllr Johnson replied. “Perhaps we wouldn’t have to consider such drastic service reductions if you hadn’t left the council in such a parlous financial position blighted by years of overspending, virtually no reserves and numerous unfunded promises.”

Other councillors also entered the fray. Cllr Phil Haseler (Con, Cox Green) said: “Good grief Simon, I’m surprised you’re brazen enough to stick your head above the parapet given it was you that screwed up the borough’s finances and jumped ship without warning.”

Cllr Donna Stimson (Con, St Mary’s) said: “Cabinet has deliberated long and hard about which services to keep. We are consulting with residents, so please fill in the consultation when prompted.”

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