Council cabinet members not prepared to serve under new leader
Date published: 12 December 2017
Councillor Peter Williams will not serve in Councillor Brett's new cabinet
Councillors' Jacqui Beswick and Peter Williams, former long serving deputy leaders of the Council and current cabinet members, have told Councillor Allen Brett they will not serve in his new Cabinet.
Councillor Brett was voted the new leader of Rochdale Borough Council at a Labour Group meeting on Monday evening following the surprise resignation of Councillor Richard Farnell as Council Leader last Friday (8 December).
Councillor Beswick said: "Given last night's decision by the majority of the Labour Group, who decided not to vote for change, I find it impossible to carry on as a cabinet member in the forthcoming administration.
"My heartfelt thanks go to those who supported me."
Councillor Jacqui Beswick will not serve in Councillor Brett's new cabinet
Councillor Williams added: "The most important point for some was the rejection of a potential female Labour leader, and given Rochdale's history that is an important matter - Jacqui Beswick was an excellent and very experienced candidate.
"For me the real rubicon was the testimony of the former leader [Councillor Richard Farnell] to the IICSA inquiry into child sexual abuse. For a leader to not be able to recollect so many specific questions about his knowledge of events at the time was a disgrace. We all know councils do not operate in any way without reference to the leader, it happens now and it happened then in 1990 to 1992, nothing functions without the leader's authority, not the slightest decision formally or informally, do not kid yourself.
"I cannot serve alongside the apparent successors.
"Yesterday was a sad day with no change, or acknowledgement, on this issue."
Speaking to the BBC, Councillor Brett said that people should await the outcome of the inquiry before making judgements.
"All I can do is appeal to people to wait for the result of the inquiry and also to believe what has been said," he said.
"Hopefully, when the inquiry comes out, everything will show that what Richard said was true."
Councillor Farnell resigned due to what he called a "persistent campaign" based on "political malice and pure speculation" by a "small minority" inside the party, which had "become a distraction" to the council's work.
Councillor Alan McCarthy, Armed Forces Lead, has also stepped down. He said: "This morning I tendered my resignation as Armed Forces Lead Member for Rochdale Council with immediate effect."
Councillor Alan McCarthy has stepped down
It is understood that another former deputy leader, Councillor Donna Martin, has also resigned her position.
Councillor Brett, who was first elected a councillor in the 1980s and was previously leader of the Council in 2005, has been invited to comment.
He has written to thank Councillor Beswick for her services to the Council and the Labour Group.
In his letter, he said: "My priority is to take the Party forward and to continue our ambitious programme for the whole borough.
"To achieve this we will all need to work together.
"I look forward to your continued support for the Group’s and Party’s policies in the future."
New council leader Councillor Allen Brett