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The Body with More Than Two Heads

December 19, 2006 9:47 PM

Despite the reply given by Cllr Kington, chairman of Strategy & Resources, the true position remains opaque.

Cllr Colin Taylor posed a question to the December meeting of the full council, wanting to know which councillor of the ruling Residents' Party was empowered to sign letters on behalf of the council.

At the moment, the Chairman of the Residents' Party refuses to call himself Leader. The councillor who appears to actually be in charge is the Chairman of the Strategy & Resources Committee, who turns up to meetings where a "Leader of the Council" is required, as well as the Chairman of the Residents' Party.

The Mayor, also a member of the Residents Party, is authorised to sign letters on behalf of the council - but is expected to steer clear of all political matters whilst in office. The Chief Executive also signs letters on behalf of the council.

The confusion arose because the Government's White Paper on local government has prompted signatures from Leaders of Surrey District Councils (almost all of which have a named Leader), and it was unclear just who at Epsom & Ewell is empowered to sign on behalf of the council.

Cllr Taylor commented "on the face of it one could say there are numerous councillors who are Leaders, but where an official response is needed on behalf of the whole council, no-one seems to know in advance just who will give that response. Clearly it should be the same person each time - and everyone should know just who that is".

The response to Cllr Taylor's question was unclear and did not resolve the matter! Perhaps the real answer is that no-one leads the council and the Residents' Party in control just limps from pillar to post in complete disarray.