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Confusion in District Council

September 7, 2020 2:03 PM
By Peter Dobbs

Moorland fire (eyeoncalderdale)

Moorland fire (c) eyeoncalderdale

Three Tories change their vote after intervention of council officer

At the two hour meeting of the full Derbyshire Dales District Council held over Zoom on 3rd September a motion was proposed by a group of Lib Dem, Green, Labour and Independent councillors calling for the establishment of Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) in order to help protect areas of moorland from the devastating effects of wilds fires. These PSPOs would enable fixed penalty fines to be issued to anyone using a disposable barbecue or lighting an open fire in the designated areas.

However the controlling Conservative group led by Cllr Gary Purdy clearly did not feel the same way. Instead Cllr Purdy proposed an amendment that would effectively postpone any decision on PSPOs until some future date.

It was, in effect, an amendment to do rather little, rather slowly.

This was duly passed (the Conservative group have a majority) but when the final vote came (in effect a repeat vote for the amendment) some Conservative Councillors appeared confused as to what to do.

Having clearly been opposed to the original (unamended) motion, when the vote was taken, they attempted to vote against what they had just voted for. When three had voted against the motion, the Director of Corporate Services, James McLaughlin, interrupted the vote to explain what the motion was. When the vote was taken again, the same three members now voted for the motion!

One of the co-signatories to the original letter calling for the Extraordinary Meeting, Lib Dem Cllr Paul Cruise, commented, "If the Council is to demonstrate that it is genuinely serious about the problem of wild fires in our area, then I hope they will have a representative present at the next 'Peak Summit' organised by Derbyshire Constabulary to express the need to take action, as was suggested at the meeting but not voted on. I am also relieved that Cllr David Hughes was able to persuade Cllr Purdy to change the amendment to at least keep PSPOs as a possible option in the future".