Tories force second no confidence vote in leader of Southend Council

Southend Tories are forcing a second vote of no confidence in the Labour leader of the council as they seek a mandate to keep rubbish collections weekly.

An extraordinary council meeting will be held next Thursday with calls being put forward for the council to abandon any plans for fortnightly bin collections and draw up a new waste contract with mandatory weekly collections.

Three other Conservative motions also call for a vote of no confidence in the current Labour, Lib Dem and Independent administration, the removal of leader Ian Gilbert and the election of a new leader.

Cllr Gilbert saw off a vote of no confidence last year after Tories attempted to oust him over a £10million investment in the controversial Seaway leisure scheme planned for Southend seafront.

Councillors voted 23 to 27 against the motion.

Cllr Gilbert and his administration has attracted more criticism for attempting to hold debates on waste contract in private.

The council was set to renew a deal with its contractor Veolia, bringing in wheelie bins with alternate week collections for waste and recycling.

Following an outcry it made an 11th hour U-turn and decided to put the contract out to tender.

Conservatives say the protracted process will cost the council and taxpayers £8million.

Defending the latest attempt to remove Cllr Gilbert, Conservative leader Tony Cox, said: “The reason for calling this at the time was firstly the £8million loss to the public purse and wanting to have discussions in private.

“Now we hear they are going to have a secret waste working party meeting two days before next week’s council meeting so they don’t learn.

“You can’t throw £8million of public money up the wall and think there will be no consequences.”

Cllr Cox may have less support for this vote after the resignation of Alex Bright and with two councillors away during half term.

The no confidence vote will be held the day after an official ceremony to make Southend a city followed by celebrations and events.

Cllr Gilbert said: “It is very disappointing that the Conservatives are pulling this kind of political stunt just a few weeks before the public get their say in an election. It’s not long since I won a vote of no confidence so think they are just playing politics. I hope it doesn’t detract from the great week that we have planned next week”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter