Tory councillor accused of ‘pursuing vendetta’ against Arun cabinet member

Lib Dem Matt Stanley and Tory Paul Dendle
Lib Dem Matt Stanley and Tory Paul Dendle

Arun District Council presented a less than united front when one councillor accused a second of ‘pursuing some sort of vendetta’ against a third.

At a meeting of the overview select committee on Tuesday, Paul Dendle (Con, Arundel & Walberton) questioned Matt Stanley (Lib Dem, Marine) about his performance as cabinet member for technical services.

Mr Stanley’s remit covers flooding – an issue not far from people’s minds, given the severe damage caused to sea defences at Climping during Storm Ciara.

His calendar includes attending Local Government Association special interest group meetings, where the problem can be discussed.

Mr Dendle took Mr Stanley to task after being told that, since taking up his cabinet post, he had sent his apologies for not attending one meeting and would attend the next – which will be held in York – via telephone conference.

Mr Dendle said: “We’ve obviously had some very serious flooding in this district in the last few months and the cabinet member should be attending these groups.”

When he asked how much allowance Mr Stanley received for his cabinet role – the figure of £8,320pa is easily accessible via the council’s website – deputy leader Francis Oppler (Lib Dem, Orchard) stepped in.

Mr Oppler said: “There is a developing pattern from meeting to meeting that Councillor Dendle seems to be pursuing some sort of vendetta against Councillor Stanley.

“The leader has been taking the lead with regards to the sea breach at Climping and this authority has taken the matter very seriously.

“All members are fulfilling their role, including Councillor Stanley.”

When chairman Hugh Coster (Ind, Aldwick East) declared the question ‘inappropriate’, Mr Dendle – who served as cabinet member for environment when the Conservatives controlled the council – insisted: “If he receives a special allowance, why is he not doing the job?”

That’s when Mr Stanley stood up to defend himself.

To calls from some quarters of ‘what does that have to do with the question?’, he reminded Mr Dendle that the local community had voted for change within the council.

He added: “That involves people coming from a variety of different backgrounds, a variety of different situations.

“I’m a younger councillor, I work full-time, and I’m quite happy with my attendance, I’m happy with how I represent my portfolio.

“That does involve me doing things slightly differently – some things through video conferencing, some things through telephone conferencing.

“I’m perfectly comfortable that I’m representing my portfolio the way it should be.”