Councillor booted from committee job
Nick Oliver, a Conservative member of Northumberland County Council since 2017, has been removed from his role as chairman of the local authority’s communities and place overview and scrutiny committee (OSC).
But announcing his demotion, the county councillor for Corbridge claimed to be in the dark over the reason for the decision.
“It’s been a very short period as scrutiny chair – I’ve lasted longer than Brian Clough did at Leeds United, but I’ve enjoyed it,” he told the panel at its most recent meeting.
“I asked the leader and he declined to answer, but I think it’s probably because I’ve been deemed too challenging.
“I think scrutiny is a really important function and I would hope the council continues to take scrutiny very seriously.
“Having sat on the other side of the table in cabinet, I have to say I probably enjoyed my time in scrutiny more than my time as a cabinet member and it’s important we don’t allow proper scrutiny of the council to be fettered.”
Until May, Cllr Oliver was a member of the council’s ruling cabinet with responsibility for “corporate services”, including council tax.
He was handed the position at the top table by council leader Glen Sanderson, who took over following the shock ousting of former boss Peter Jackson.
However, following this year’s round of local elections, which saw the Conservatives seize majority control of the county council, albeit with a majority of just one, Cllr Oliver was removed from the cabinet and installed instead as chairman of the council’s Communities and Place OSC.
Every county councillor is entitled to a basic allowance of £13,329.
As cabinet member, Cllr Oliver was entitled to a “special responsibility allowance” of £14,850 on top of this, falling to £12,150 as chair of one of the council’s scrutiny committees.
According to a report prepared for the local authority, Cllr Oliver, who last year was linked to a business which went bust owing the council more than £30,000, is set to be replaced as chairman of the OSC by Liberal Democrat councillor and former council leader Jeff Reid, but will retain a seat on the panel.
Council leader Glen Sanderson declined to comment.