Takeover plot failed when two councillors cast surprise vote

By Carole Dennett May 3, 2024
Tories look glum as they realise they lost the vote

Plans by the Conservative and Empowering Islander (EI) groups to seize control of the IW Council, through a governance system change, were thwarted on Wednesday.

The council was discussing moving from a leader-cabinet model to a committee system, aiming to involve more councillors in the decision-making process. The push for change was spearheaded by Independent Labour, Councillor Geoff Brodie, who argued that the committee approach would be more democratic and enhance decision-making quality.

Councillors were tasked with deciding not only if the shift should take place, but also the timing — this year or next. Such changes must be enacted at the council’s annual general meeting, scheduled for May 15 this year.

An initial debate centred around whether the chairman of the Policy, Finance, and Resources (PFR) Committee should also serve as council leader. A ‘secret’ agreement had been reached, between the Tory and EI factions, to install EI leader, Cllr Chris Jarman, for the PFR chairmanship, and Tory leader, Cllr Clare Mosdell, as council leader. The vote was to separate the two roles and was won by 20 votes to 18.

Cllr Geoff Brodie

However, an unexpected twist came when a vote was taken on the timing of the change. Cllr Brodie revealed that he had seen evidence of the plotting between Tory and EI members, and voted to postpone implementation to the following year. This, coupled with EI group member, Cllr Dave Adams, also voting against immediate change, resulted in a tie, with 19 votes each way. Council chairman, Cllr Claire Critchison, used her casting vote to maintain the current system until May 2025.

Cllr Mosdell, clearly shocked by the development, was denied an adjournment before the final vote confirmed the governance change will take place next year.

There will be a local government election before the committee system is adopted, and with the departure of Cllr Dave Adams from the EI Group, the two groups, who also worked together to try to take over the council last August, no longer hold a majority. Cllr Mosdell has told her group that she has no intention of standing again for election, so the vote effectively ends her hopes of leading the IW Council.

Cllr Jarman, who frequently claims that he stands for “openness and transparency”, had earlier complained that the IW Observer report about the plot last week, was not “balanced” and was “pure speculation”, but in three emails, totalling almost 1,000 words, he did not deny that it was true. Cllr Mosdell ignored a number of requests for clarity on what was going on.

The council will use the coming year to prepare for the changeover.