Forward March: Democracy Curtailed
On 18th March Hastings Borough Council formally approved Cllr Kim Forward as Council Leader in place of Cllr Peter Chowney, with Cllr Colin Fitzgerald appointed as deputy. Council officer Jane Hartnell, previously labelled Director of Corporate Services and Governance, has the new title of Managing Director.
Ms Hartnell has been empowered to take ‘essential’ decisions during the COVID-19 crisis, subject to consultation with a minimum of four councillors in the council cabinet, including at least one from the party in opposition (i.e. a Conservative). These decisions will largely involve statutory duties, plus any help the council can give to relief efforts. Public committee meetings have been suspended.
Meanwhile, the council elections due in May, with half the council seats up for contest, have been postponed for a year, so that all existing councillors are assured of their status for this period. “Local authorities can focus on their vital role in delivering public services in the weeks ahead”, explained Robert Jenrick, Minister for Communities and Local Government.
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