Veteran Arun councillor removed from post amid cabinet reshuffle

Councillor Ricky Bower
Councillor Ricky Bower

A senior Arun councillor who dodged numerous calls from the public to resign has been surprisingly relieved of his duties amid a cabinet reshuffle which also saw failed leadership challengers axed.

Ricky Bower has been cabinet member for planning and infrastructure for more than a decade but will now be replaced by Barnham councillor John Charles.

Mr Bower, who has overseen the preparation of the Arun Local Plan, has faced numerous calls to resign from residents angry with controversial housing plans.

But he and leader Gill Brown had repeatedly dismissed the calls, with Mr Bower previously stating he indended to ‘see the plan through’.

No comment was made on the decision as the change was voted through at full council tonight (Wednesday, May 17). Click here to read Mr Bower’s reaction to the news.

Mrs Brown faced criticism from Arundel councillor Paul Dendle, who questioned whether the decision to remove him from his cabinet post was ‘vindictive’.

Mr Dendle was axed alongside fellow cabinet member Terry Chapman, after the duo failed in a bid to replace Mrs Brown and her deputy, Dudley Wensley.

Addressing full council, he said: “When I challenged the leadership of the council and seconded Terry Chapman to be leader I gave a promise I would support whoever won that campaign so I will vote for the motion tonight.

“But loyalty is a two-way street and I put the leader on notice that I will hold the executive to account as much as can.

“I note from the committee positions that I haven’t been put on one single committee. Is that vindictive or not? Is that disenfranchising the voters of Arundel? I think so.”

Mrs Brown rebutted the claim, pointing to emails between her and Mr Dendle – a dialogue leaked to the Gazette in the wake of the challenge.

She said: “I had an email from councillor Dendle saying he did not want to do any part of any committee on this council which is why I didn’t put him on any committee and that’s the end of it.”

Liberal Democrats councillor Dr James Walsh said he was ‘astonished’ by Mr Dendle’s speech which he said revealed ‘divisions’ and ‘disharmony’ in the Tory group.

He said: “It’s the way dissenters have often been treated, particularly the minority groups on this council. Punishment by vindictiveness. That’s not the right way to run a council.”

Conservative councillor Andy Cooper refuted Dr Walsh’s suggestion of disquiet in the group.

He said the Tories were ‘steadfast behind the leader’

Councillors Stephen Haymes and Mike Clayden take Mr Dendle and Mr Chapman’s positions.

Mr Bower will be the new chairman of the development control committee.