Councillors who launched a failed bid to overthrow Arun District Council’s Conservative leadership have been ‘sacked’.
Leader Gill Brown informed cabinet members Terry Chapman and Paul Dendle of her decision by email yesterday (Thursday, April 28).
Leaked Arun Conservative group emails in the fallout from the decision, seen by this newspaper, revealed Mrs Brown wanted a ‘strong, loyal cabinet’ to support her.
The leader today denied the changes were sackings – but are instead merely the result of ‘regular’ cabinet changes.
A source from within the group said: “There is considerable disquiet within the group in the way this has been handled.”
Mr Chapman was defeated in his bid to become leader at a private Conservative meeting last month.
Mr Dendle stood against deputy leader Dudley Wensley. According to the leaked emails, he only lost out in a second round of voting after votes for both candidates were tied.
The emails reveal Mr Dendle’s criticism of what he terms as his ‘sacking’.
He claimed the decision was ‘not the sign of a strong leader’.
He wrote: “We all hear of the horror stories of people being sacked by text, by email is just as bad. I think you’re wrong in your decision.
“I would have thought it would me more appropriate to have a face to face on a decision like this. I have fired many people in my professional career. I have always looked them in the eye and had that difficult conversation.”
Asked to comment on the emails and his sacking, Mr Dendle said: “While I regret the manner and the way it was done, I wish the new cabinet members good luck with their portfolios.
“As cabinet member I have made significant changes to the way the council is run and feel I have made a real contribution over 10 years loyal service.”
Mr Chapman declined to comment.
Mrs Brown’s email to Mr Dendle stated: “I need a strong, loyal cabinet who will have to take some tough decisions this year and I need people who will support me in this difficult process.”
In reaction, Mrs Brown said the new cabinet would be announced at the annual council meeting next month.
“Nobody has been sacked. The cabinet changes on a regular basis which creates opportunities for other members. This also happens in every other district council that I know and also the county council. The new list of appointments will be available at the council AGM.”