Leader dismisses claims South Ribble Council is ‘rudderless’

Paul Foster, new leader of South Ribble's Labour group
Paul Foster, new leader of South Ribble's Labour group

Troubled South Ribble Council is described as being “in freefall” as urgent action over its leadership is demanded.

Paul Foster, leader of the Labour group on the council, says he is astonished by the delay in getting its political top brass sorted out and launched an attack on the Conservative group.

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Coun Peter Mullineaux was voted leader of the local Conservative group at a special meeting three weeks ago, but will not take charge until it is ratified at a full council meeting.

That will only take place on September 15 – a week after an important, decision-making cabinet meeting.

Coun Colin Clark has been placed as interim council leader. South Ribble Council currently has no party in overall control. On top of all this, chief executive Mike Nuttall has also resigned to pursue new opportunities.

But Coun Foster says an ‘already damaged’ authority is in need of strong leadership and that the time for action is right now. He was due to meet the chief executive yesterday in an effort to resolve the situation. Coun Foster said: “I think it’s critically important, now the chief executive is going to leave, to get a new executive of the council in position quickly. The council is in freefall at the moment and really needs some strong leadership.

“We’ve got an interim leader who’s not actually leader of any political party on the council. It’s just an assumption by the Conservative group they’re in control of the council when they’re not – it’s just madness.”

Coun Mullineaux rejected Coun Foster’s comments. He said: “This is not about being rudderless. I’ve said to Paul Foster the reason we’ve called it on September 15 is because of holidays.

“This is an extraordinary meeting. It’s not on the diary, we’ve lots of people on holiday and there are lots of other things taking place. We’ve got to get the mayor’s decision.

“That was the earliest and best time due to other commitments and things going on in the council and I would want to have as many people at that meeting as possible. We appreciate things need to be done and they’re being done behind the scenes.”