Bucks Council Tories to be scrutinised by new opposition alliance

Conservative councillor Martin Tett has been appointed leader of the newly-formed Buckinghamshire Council for another term – but will be up against a new opposition group in the county which has promised to be a ‘critical friend’.

The Tories ran out comfortable winners in the local elections on May 6 but did lose some seats to the independents, greens and Labour.

Cllr Tett was the previous leader of the old Bucks County Council and will be joined at the helm of the unitary authority for a further four years by two deputy leaders, Cllr Angela MacPherson and Cllr Gareth Williams.

Taking up the position of chairman is Cllr Zahir Mohammed, with Farnham Common and Burnham Beeches councillor Dev Dhillon supporting him as vice chairman.

Cllr Jocelyn Towns, who represents Flackwell Heath, Little Marlow and Marlow South East, has been appointed deputy cabinet member for planning and regeneration, and is also deputy mayor of Marlow Town Council.

The new 147-seat make-up of councillors met for its first annual general meeting on Wednesday, May 26, where the new positions were decided.

Cllr Tett said: "Despite the elections being delayed in 2020, nearly all members of the five previous councils stayed on to help support and steer the new authority during its first year.

“That work is hugely appreciated and has already set this council on a course to become one of the very best in the country.

"I am hugely excited about the future and what we can deliver for the people of Buckinghamshire. It's a massively challenging agenda, but its an agenda that starts right now.”

In an effort to scrutinise the Conservative-led council, opposition members have formed a group called ‘IMPACT Alliance’.

Initially formed from eight previous and new independent councillors, the group has joined up with five other councillors from the Green Party and Labour to ‘work together’ and offer policy suggestions as a ‘critical friend’.

The group says that rather than it being known as a single political party, members are free to operate ‘as they wish’ and work together to cover council services using experience as councillors and campaigners.

Cllr Stuart Wilson, IMPACT Alliance group leader and independent councillor for The Wooburns, Bourne End and Hedsor, said: “Every member of IMPACT Alliance has successfully challenged the status quo to be elected as a councillor, sometimes in wards with a long history of single party dominance.

“‘Business as usual’ is no longer acceptable when we are faced with an ongoing public health crisis, economic and employment challenges alongside shifting working patterns.

“We want to bring a new perspective based on facts and evidence and will challenge where necessary.”

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