The new leader of Ashfield council who came to power in a dramatic meeting has said he is aware of the size of the challenge facing district, but that his team will be able to make measurable improvements.
Councillor Jason Zadrozny is the leader of the Ashfield Independents, which now finds itself in the unlikely position of running the council, despite having fewer than a third of councillors.
It has just 10 of the 35 seats on the council, but came to power yesterday evening, Thursday, April 26, after it forced a vote of no confidence in the Labour leader Cheryl Butler.
He received 18 votes for his leadership and 16 against.
Councillor Helen-Ann Smith and Councillor Tom Hollis carried the motion of no confidence against Coun Butler. This motioned was carried with 18 voting in favour 16 against.
The labour leader has said she is proud of her record as leader of the council, and that she intends to win back control of the council at elections next year.
It comes after two Labour councillors defected to the Conservatives, and six more became independents.
The new leader, who represents the Larwood ward, addressed council staff today, and meet the chief executive of the council.
He said: “There’s lots for us to do and as for the likely priorities, we’ve had massive issues with our recycling rates plummeting, fly tipping has increased by 39 percent, so we need to focus on cleaner streets and making Ashfield a nicer place to live.”
To achieve this, Coun Zadrozny said his party has some ‘concrete’ policies which it would put in place ‘immediately’, such as lowering the charges for garden waste bins and introducing a roving enforcement team tasked with cracking down on fly-tipping.
On long-term policies, such as reducing the number of empty shops and lowering crime rates, the councillor said the party would be working with council officers to draw up plans.
He said: “The council has never really used its voice with other groups like the police or the NHS. For too long we have been forgotten because of political battles, and I just want to put that to one side.
“We’re going to be able to come in with a fresh approach and look at why things are being done the way they are.
“I think we have got a lot more drive and ambition to make some positive changes.”
Labour group leader Cheryl Butler said: “We are of course disappointed by the result last night. The Labour group has achieved great things for the people of Ashfield, delivering our manifesto pledges within a year.
“The Labour administration, under my leadership, kept its promises to the people of Ashfield. The Labour administration delivered on free car parking, free swimming, a landlord licensing scheme which has improved the lives of many residents, cleaner streets, more re-cycling, council houses built, closer working with businesses, the list goes on.
“In the council chamber last night as a newly appointed Leader, Mr Zadrozny spoke of his desire to work cross party in the interests of the people of Ashfield.
“Yet just minutes before, he and his group, the Ashfield Independents abstained on our Labour motion of pledging to eradicate Child Poverty in Ashfield.
“If Mr Zadrozny truly believed in cross party cooperation to get the best for Ashfield residents he would have supported our motion, especially when you consider that we have the highest levels of child poverty in the East Midlands outside the three major cities.
“Local elections will be held in Ashfield in just over a year and we will be working hard over that time holding the new leader to account and fighting to win back control of the council in May 2019.”
The council will now be led by a minority administration. The Ashfield Independents have eight of the 35 seats; Labour has 14; there are six independents; five Conservative councillors; and two Selston Parish Independents.
Words by Kit Sandeman
Video by Jessica Dallison