Bedford mayor under fire for 'lightening his workload' - including dropping responsibility for economic development

Bedford mayor, Tom WoottonBedford mayor, Tom Wootton
Bedford mayor, Tom Wootton
Bedford borough Lib Dems have hit out at the mayor for lightening his workload – but the Conservatives say the changes are a result of shedding ‘outdated’ roles.

The agenda for tomorrow’s Full Council shows that Conservative mayor Tom Wootton is listed as being in charge of eight areas – five fewer than last year.

Economic development is one the roles being delegated to a member of the executive.

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Liberal Democrat group leader, councillor Henry Vann (De Parys) called the move a “backward step”.

“It is particularly concerning that he has dropped responsibility for economicdevelopment, something that [the former mayor] Dave Hodgson made a top personal priority in order to see local businesses grow and create jobs for local residents.

“I think voluntary organisations will also be disappointed to see that he has dropped them from his role.

“The mayor should be primarily concerned about delivering for Bedford residents, not about lightening his workload.”

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However, the Conservative group leader, councillor Graeme Coombes (Wixams and Wilstead) said the previous roles and responsibilities were “outdated and dysfunctional”.

He said: “In order to better deliver for Bedford residents, the mayor and Executive took a bold step forward by realigning responsibilities so that the whole of the council and executive can work towards priorities more holistically, rather than imposing decisions from on high as the Liberal Democrat’s mayor previously did.

“The mayor, executive and council function as a team with all of us working together to ensure continuity across the whole council and on all priorities, the realignment of responsibilities achieves that.”

According to the Lib Dems, the mayor has shed his responsibilities on business rates reliefs, economic development, partnerships,procurement, planning policy, voluntary organisations, internal audit and property/ asset management. However, he has taken on inward investment, human resources and emergency planning – including flooding.

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