Wednesday 17 July 2024
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Nottingham

Councillor removed from health committee chair at county council

A senior Nottinghamshire County Councillor has insisted ageism was not a factor in the demotion of a Tory colleague, who said she was “gobsmacked” at the change.

Councillor Sue Saddington (Con) is being removed from the role of chair of the Health Scrutiny Committee by the council’s Conservative leadership.

She told a full council meeting in an emotional statement today (December 7) that the move wasn’t her choice, and said repeatedly: “Age should not be a factor.”

Fellow Conservative Councillor and cabinet member Chris Barnfather (Con), said none of the changes made in the reshuffle were due to age, but didn’t elaborate on the reasons.

Members from across the chamber paid tribute to Cllr Saddington as an effective leader of the committee, who had raised focus on problems with maternity services.

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She will be replaced by Councillor Jonathan Wheeler (Con).

Cllr Saddington said at the meeting: “This was not my decision. Age should be no barrier.

“I was gobsmacked when I was told I was moving in favour of someone else.

“People are writing to me, asking things, and I’m telling them I’ve been taken off.

“Hospital staff are saying thank you and they’re shocked.

“I have nothing to hide, I have done nothing wrong.”

Cllr Barnfather responded: “It’s absolutely inappropriate to comment on why people changed positions. The changes were made to expand the experiential base of our members.

“I can refute one reason – nobody lost position because of age. They may have a view themselves, but the rationale behind that was explained individually.

“In every reshuffle – Westminster or here – there will be perceived winners or losers.

“We are very happy with the changes and confident in the people we’ve appointed.”

Opposition members strongly criticised the move.

Councillor Michelle Welsh (Lab) said: “It’s an utter loss to the people of Nottinghamshire that she’s no longer in that role. The council will regret this decision.

“Some of the biggest things to help women’s and children’s health in this county have happened because Sue Saddington read the facts, listened and challenged people.

“Maternity issues wouldn’t have been brought to the forefront without her.”

Councillor Tom Hollis (Ash Ind) said: “It seems to be quite a large demotion for Sue Saddington, I only hope that’s not because she’s been quite outspoken and constructive working with opposition members.”

The reshuffle came as the county council modified its portfolios, splitting up larger ones and consolidating smaller ones.

There will now be a single post for Children and Families (which Cllr Scott Carlton has been appointed to), and another one for Education and Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (Sam Smith).

Cllr Jonathan Wheeler ( Conservative West Bridgford South ) told The Wire:

‘I am delighted to be appointed by my colleagues to Chair such an important committee.

‘Health Scrutiny plays a crucial role in our local health services and we will continue the great work of the committee in working for the very best for our residents.’

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