Lib Dem attack “You’ve shown yourself to be incapable of answering questions coherently”

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Mayor Tom Wootton
Mayor Tom Wootton. Image: Bedford Borough Council

Bedford’s mayor was branded incapable of answering questions coherently or grasping facts in a scathing attack at a council meeting last night (Thursday).

Lib Dem cllr Christine McHugh (Goldington) made the brutal comments at last night’s Annual Council Meeting (16 May), suggesting a lack of confidence from his fellow Conservatives was the real reason he had cut back on his responsibilities.

Read: Conservatives defend reduction of mayor’s responsibilities

But mayor Tom Wootton said he was elected as the mayor for change and “sometimes things change”.

During the meeting, mayor Wootton presented his report on the composition and constitution of his Executive for the coming year.

“We have the opportunity to determine the allocation and responsibilities between the portfolios and to recognise the skills that I have been able to draw on,” he said.

“My aspirations and ambitions to make Bedford better do however require better focus on one or two allotted responsibilities.

“I am therefore able to recognise the strengths and skills of the portfolio holders that form part of this fantastic cabinet and trust them to deliver in all [our] key areas.

“Rest assured I maintain a strategic overview and the buck does stop with me eventually.”

Councillor McHugh (Lib Dem, Goldington) said: “Isn’t the truth of it that you’ve shown yourself to be incapable of answering questions coherently or to have a grasp of the facts, as we’ve seen in full councils and as you amply demonstrated last night [Environment and Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee].

“And isn’t it the case that in fact your own team don’t have confidence in you to do the job of the mayor?”

Cllr McHugh (Lib Dem/Goldington). Image: Screenshot Annual Bedford Borough Council Meeting 15 May 2024 via LDRS
Cllr McHugh (Lib Dem/Goldington). Image: Screenshot Annual Bedford Borough Council Meeting 15 May 2024 via LDRS

Mayor Tom said: “What a wonderful, wonderful question, I thought I did tremendously well last night. I mean I had loads of people ask me the same question for about an hour and a half.

“But eventually we did get there in the end and got the right result.

“I think my answering of questions is one of our strong points but there again you probably don’t, so I think we have to agree to disagree,” he said.

By John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter