Conservatives sack Searles from Sevenoaks cabinet finance post but try and keep schtum

Not only has Cllr Tony Searles stepped down as Deputy Mayor on Swanley Town Council (STC) and had the Tory party group whip withdrawn, but has since been sacked as Cabinet Portfolio holder for Finance at Sevenoaks District Council (SDC). 

We await a press release from SDC. They also haven’t even yet had the courtesy to inform our Lib Dem group council leader Merilyn Canet what’s going on.

Searles was elected as a Conservative member for Swanley Village on Swanley Town Council, and also sits on Sevenoaks District Council for the Swanley Christchurch ward.

When a Swanley party member contacted SDC to put in a question about Searles at the next full council meeting, she was told he had already resigned his post. 

Sevenoaks and Swanley Lib Dems say:

–  this is long overdue given the financial and personnel meltdown in Swanley Town Council, and the collapse in services over the last two years

–  that he should step down from other positions of responsibility at Sevenoaks District Council

–  if the voters of Swanley had known about this chaos on their Councils three weeks ago, and it had not been swept under the carpet by the Tories, the by-election results would have been very different!

The Tory council leader of Swanley Victor Southern later responded to the press: 

“The decision was made mainly on the effect that certain allegations made against him had on the council as to cost and efficiency of administration.”

Does that sound like resignation to you????

ALWAYS ASK WHY SOMEONE IS HIDING SOMETHING

Sometimes just asking the question can get you the result you want. Earlier this week former Swanley mayor Janet Sargeant sent in a question for the next Sevenoaks District Council full meeting.

Why she asked – since the Conservative councillor for Swanley Village had been fired by his colleagues on Swanley Town Council for wrecking the council’s operations and finances – was he still in place as the Finance Cabinet Member on Sevenoaks District Council?

At Swanley the councillor in question, Tony Searles, was only responsible for a budget of £2 million a year – although he had managed to lose almost all the £400,000 income from the council’s catering business. In Sevenoaks he was responsible for an operating budget of £14 million a year, and a speculative property portfolio of similar size.

Today (Friday) Janet got an answer – that Cllr Searles had been sacked. He’s gone from the Cabinet list on the Council website, and failed to appear at last night’s Cabinet meeting. But here’s the mysterious thing – nobody has been told. There’s no press release so far, and even the councillors are still in the dark.

Sounds like a story the Sevenoaks Tories wanted to bury?!

Cllr Tony Clayton, Chairman of Sevenoaks and Swanley Lib Dems, 01732 451087

About Alan Bullion

Alan Bullion is Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesman for Sevenoaks and Swanley
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