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Members call on Chair, Vice-Chair to resign

Seven Members of the Isles of Scilly Council have called on the Chair and Vice-Chair to resign.

A statement read out in this morning's meeting by Lead Member for Place Steve Sims accused Chairman Robert Francis of "cleaving the Council in two" during his eight-month tenure.

He said a "very serious issue" is looming in the Authority, which "needs to be in the public domain".

The statement was supported by Cllrs Robert Dorrien-Smith, Ted Moulson, Avril Mumford, Dan Marcus, Mike Nelhams and Jonathan Smith.

Read the statement in full below:

There is a very serious issue looming that affects the Authority - an issue that in so far as possible needs to be in the public domain. 7 members - myself and Cllrs Mumford, Nelhams, Marcus, Dorrien-Smith, Moulson and Smith - are all in complete agreement on this.

We are very concerned that the outcome of recent events will severely damage and threaten our relationship with infrastructure partners and not least throw our bid for adequate fire and rescue funding into the long grass.

On November 28th, Cllrs Robert Francis and Fran Grottick initiated a process without informing at least 11 other members that will, if it goes to fulfilment, seriously damage the reputation of the Council and put the future independence of the Council of the Isles of Scilly in extreme jeopardy. It will also cost the authority upwards of a quarter of a million pounds, money which we all know we do not have to irresponsibly squander.

I'm unable to go into details of the process, but the meeting which will decide the outcome of this matter is scheduled as a part 3 item on Tuesday January 22nd.

The only solution to this is for both the Chair and Vice-Chair of Council to resign. In eight months as Chair, Cllr Francis has managed to cleave this Council in two. The public need to know about this before the next meeting and they need to ask their Councillors to justify this planned flagrant misuse of public funds without any formal discussion with Members whatsoever. And they further need to ask their Councillors if it is worth £250,000-plus to keep Cllr Francis and Grottick in their current posts.

When Cllr Francis said that the statement was not relevant to the agenda, Cllr Jonathan Smith said: "I think it is relevant and I do support it."

Cllr Moulson said: "I shall not be here at the meeting where momentous decisions will be made. I shall already be out of the country but I would like to register for public information that I really cannot support the spending of such considerable amounts of money on something that we don’t need to pursue."

Cllr Francis responded that there is a paper coming out ahead of the January 22nd meeting "and the sum of money you’ve quoted is incorrect".

Cllr Moulson replied: "Regardless of which, Chairman, I shall not be here and I think it relevant that I register my opposition to it."

Cllr Sims then clarified that the figure quoted included "additional costs and on-costs", adding: "I think [£250,000] is conservative."

Cllr Mumford said that she agreed with everything that had been said and will email a statement to be read out at the January 22nd meeting, during which she will be out of the country. She also objected to the lateness of the paper.

Cllr Fran Grottick said she did not wish to enter into a debate because she believes "the matters you have just put into the public domain should not be in the public domain because we are discussing a confidential matter".

Cllr Sims said: "I cannot understand why [there is] a meeting which consists of a single paper and that paper is late. I won’t be here anyway, but I suggest the meeting be put off for a couple of days."

Cllr Francis responded that the paper is late "because of comments you made at the previous (informal) meeting that had to be followed up" and that it is being done as quickly as possible.


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