August 12, 2020 4.47 pm This story is over 45 months old

Independent who voted against Boston leader gets cabinet role

Councillor Richard Austin will lead on heritage

An independent councillor who voted against Boston Borough Council’s leader in a vote of no confidence this week has been given a seat at the top table in a cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday.

Councillor Richard Austin voted in favour of deposing Councillor Paul Skinner and replacing him with Independent Councillor Stephen Woodliffe – but called for changes in leadership to stop.

He has now been given the “heritage” portfolio – a new role created within the authority’s cabinet separate to the Tourism, Arts and Culture seat held by Conservative Councillor David Brown.

Elsewhere, Conservative Councillor Jonathan Noble will take on finance after Councillor Martin Howard stepped down, while Conservative-aligned Councillor Tracey Abbott has replaced Tory Councillor Chelcei Sharman on the town centre.

Councillor Skinner said the changes would “clarify roles” as the council moved to the recovery phase of the Coronavirus crisis.

He said Councillor Austin’s move had actually been planned prior to Monday’s meeting but COVID-19 had delayed the changes.

“During a time of national emergency it is expedient to have stability,” he said.

“Following the vote on Monday evening it was agreed all members would work together.”

He indicated another new cabinet position was “likely” to be created in September.

“I would like to welcome our three new members on board who will all bring their own special skills,” he said.

“This is a strong cabinet and we will deliver for our borough.”

Councillor Peter Bedford (left) tried to get Boston Borough Council leader Councillor Paul Skinner deposed and replaced with Councillor Stephen Woodliffe (left).

The meeting on Monday saw accusations of bullying, hate crimes, and wheeling and dealing fly across the virtual chamber.

Councillor Austin supported Councillor Woodliffe but called for the changes in leadership to stop – there have been three in two years.

He told members: “Whoever wins tonight I will do my best to support them.”

Councillor Skinner’s position was saved by just one vote. Apart from Councillor Austin, all the councillors given new roles voted for their leader.