Southend Council leader refuses to quit over ‘fears for Blues deal’

Southend’s embattled Tory leader is refusing to quit over fears the deal to secure the future of Southend United is “in jeopardy”.

Tony Cox is likely to face a vote of no confidence at a crunch meeting in the week commencing May 20 because he has given no indication that he intends to stand down following Conservative election losses.

Labour – which won 20 seats against the Tories’ 18 seats at last week’s elections – hope to snatch control of the council from the Conservatives with the backing of Independents and Lib Dems.

Under council procedure, Cllr Cox would need to resign at the annual council meeting next Thursday or face a vote of no confidence to remove him.

Cllr Cox said he had concerns over the future of the sale of Southend United following areport which revealed members of the proposed joint administration had concerns about the Fossetts Farm homes deal, which is crucial to the sale of the club.

Instead of resigning, he said he would let democratic process follow which would eventually lead to a vote of no confidence.

Cllr Cox said he had been “inundated” with calls about the change in leadership and fears the Blues deal is “in jeopardy”.

He added: “A deal hasn’t been finalised. The council’s standing orders require nine days for a motion to be put and I believe in the democratic process and not behind closed doors coronations when things are still up in the air.”

With 26 councillors needed to form a joint administration, all but one of seven Independents and four Lib Dems are aligning themselves with Labour as the party with the most votes, though a formal announcement is yet to be made.

Southend’s Labour leader, Daniel Cowan said: “We have our annual meeting on May 16 and it was hoped that we would be able to formally announce a new administration by that point but I’ve been informed by the chief executive that Mr Cox does not intend to resign his position so we’ve called for a vote of no confidence.

“The annual council meeting has now been moved to the week commencing May 20 and there will be a motion to remove the leader and install a new leader. It’s a standard process.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter

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