Wednesday 25 November 2009

Hillan’s Leadership Headache

The battle for the leadership of the Conservative Group - and Barnet Council - has officially started with the news this evening that Mike Freer has resigned, following his altercation earlier in the week with "cack-handed" Chief Executive Nick Walkley.

Cllr Lynne Hillan, who will be making her third attempt to secure the leadership (having previously lost to Victor Lyon and Brian Salinger in previous contests) has been working behind the scenes for months trying to persuade colleagues not to challenge her, but sources within the Conservative Group have told Not The Barnet Times that many councillors are unhappy at the prospect of having a second consecutive leader imposed on them without an election.

Gordon Brown’s faltering Premiership is a classic example of what can go wrong when someone is appointed on the basis of Buggin’s turn, and senior Tory councillors are being urged to mount a challenge to avoid the party suffering a similar fate.

Mike Freer officially stands down as Group Leader on 10th December. Three days later, Hillan will be facing another tough challenge as she faces a re-selection meeting in Brunswick Park ward. Many ward members are deeply unhappy at Hillan’s performance on the council, in particular her decision to scrap the warden service for those living in sheltered accommodation (but not before her own mother was moved to a new home not threatened by the cuts).

Hillan could therefore find herself being anointed leader of the Group, only to be de-selected as a councillor less than 72 hours later.

With the council failing to recover a single penny of the money lost deposited in the collapsed Icelandic banks, next year’s budget is going to be one of the toughest ever - especially if Barnet wishes to emulate real Conservative councils like Hammersmith & Fulham who have cut their council tax by 3% a year for the last 3 years. Barnet therefore requires a new dedicated leader with a proven track record of success in making sound business decisions.

Not The Barnet Times is sure that Lynne Hillan’s planned two week absence from the council in January when she goes on holiday to America will not count against her when other councillors are expected to be working 24/7 to secure victory in May's elections.

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