June 18, 2021 6:45 PM
By Melvin Caton

Uttlesford District Council

All members of Liberal Democrat group on Uttlesford are part of a cross party group of thirteen councillors that have called for a vote of no confidence in the Leader and Cabinet of the Council led by the Residents of Uttlesford Party. Conservative, Green and Independent councillors form the rest of the signatories.

They all say that the Council has failed the district's residents and businesses in three ways. Firstly, by failing to defend democratic decisions, especially the Planning Committee's decision to unconditionally refuse the expansion of Stansted Airport. Secondly, by failing to run the Council in a proper manner, resulting in the external auditor being unable to sign off the Council's accounts for 2019/20. Thirdly, by failing to respect the principle of democratic accountability.

The leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition, Cllr Melvin Caton, and the councillor for Stansted South and Birchanger, said:"The Planning Committee made a 10-0 decision to refuse the Airport application in January 2020.

"The decision was then supported by the R4U leader of the Council, Cllr John Lodge, but, as the Planning Inspectors said in their decision letter after the Inquiry,'it became clear that the Council accepted that planning permission should be granted for the development, subject to conditions and obligations'.

Cllr Caton added: "Councillors have never been given a plausible explanation of why the Council's defence team did this undemocratic about-turn. It resulted in Uttlesford being told by the Planning Inspectors to pay for the costs of the appeal incurred by the airport appellants. This could cost local people millions of pounds".

Cllr Geoffrey Sell, deputy leader of the Lib Dems on Uttlesford added:"The group of thirteen has been warned that our Vote of No Confidence will be held in private - behind closed doors. This is a democratic outrage! Uttlesford's residents are entitled to hear R4U's explanation for their failures on the Airport, Governance and their contempt for democratic processes".

The cross-party motion for a Vote of No Confidence in the Leader and Cabinet of Uttlesford District Council

The Leader and Cabinet of Uttlesford District Council have failed on a number of fronts to the detriment of our residents. This is a direct result of the lack of transparent, accountable and honest leadership which has been consistently demonstrated during the past two municipal years through the following unacceptable actions and behaviours and failure of leadership that must not be allowed to continue.


The Council Leader and Cabinet failed to uphold the Planning Committee's decision to unconditionally refuse Stansted Airport Limited (STAL) permission to expand Stansted Airport to 43 million passengers per annum. In so doing they compromised the Council's case at the recent appeal hearings. Furthermore, the same leading Members have unacceptably failed to be accountable by not answering sixteen questions about the appeal process posed by other Members in January 2021.


The Council Leader and Cabinet have failed to run the Council in a proper manner and have demonstrated a lack of Good Governance. The same leading Members have refused to call upon parties involved in an ongoing 14-months' long Police Investigation and to follow good practice and to stand aside until the investigation's completion, thus causing substantial reputational and financial damage to the Council. Until the Police and any internal investigation are completed the external auditor is unable to sign off the Council's Annual Governance Statement and the Council's accounts for 2019/20.



The Council Leader and Cabinet have failed to respect the principle of Democratic Accountability. They have displayed dishonesty and have created a bullying and intimidatory culture which tolerates neither dissent nor questioning from backbench members. Elected members who question, or ask for clarification are frequently dismissed, demeaned or intimidated by administration party members, often in a vicious or otherwise inappropriate manner, so effectively suppressing the democratic representation of their constituents.


Council therefore resolves to pass a Vote of No Confidence in the current Leader and Cabinet and affirms that they are unfit to lead this Council.

PROPOSER: Councillor M Caton SECONDER: Councillor V Isham

Councillor Susan Barker (Con) Councillor Paul Fairhurst (Green)
Councillor Melvin Caton (Lib Dem) Councillor Vere Isham (Independent)
Councillor Christian Criscione (Con) Councillor Ayub Khan (Lib Dem)
Councillor Alan Dean (Lib Dem) Councillor Mark Lemon (Con)
Councillor Barbara Light (Green) Councillor Janice Loughlin (Lib Dem)
Councillor Edward Oliver (Con) Councillor Geoffrey Sell (Lib Dem)
Councillor George Smith (Con)