Angus Council’s leader has thrown up a wall of silence over a promised New Year coalition cabinet shake-up in which he said he might vacate the authority’s power seat.
Almost two months after suggesting every role in the ruling cross-party administration would be under review and potentially leaving the council with its third leader in less than two years, Arbroath councillor David Fairweather has stonewalled questions over the planned reshuffle.
As councillors head into the crucial final stages of the budget-setting process – which the administration figurehead has warned will bring tough decisions for elected members who have to balance the books in a bid to save millions of pounds – the Independent leader has repeatedly refused to answer a series of questions over the shape of the ruling group.
It comes after Mr Fairweather – who took up the leadership after Independent Brechin and Edzell colleague Bob Myles was unseated in a closed doors coup – said in December that six months into his time as leader, he was “reviewing all of the roles in the administration, and that includes my own”.
He said at the time it was “vital the right people are in the right posts to ensure everything is being done to mitigate the council’s severe financial pressures.
“The administration has a lot on its plate, and extremely difficult decisions to make, and the fact is that we cannot sit back and be complacent.”
Mr Fairweather’s comments are known to have caused consternation within the corridors of the Angus House council HQ and the timing of his announcement raised eyebrows among non-administration Independent and opposition SNP councillors.
He remains as leader and there has been no indication of major changes within the senior councillor roles, but has declined to respond to several requests for information over whether a reshuffle remains on the cards.
Mr Fairweather was also asked about the current representation on both the Tay Cities Board and Carnoustie Links.
There has been controversy over his absence on the TCD board while leaders from the partner councils of Dundee and Perth and Kinross sit on the important body, and concern he did not assume the golf role following a row over authority representation on the links body.
Angus Council was also asked for an official comment on whether Mr Fairweather remains as leader, as well as questions over the current senior posts and representation on the TCD and CGLMC board, but did not respond.
The authority has made £43m in savings since 2013, shedding 500 staff in the process, but even with £13 million of savings identified for the next year officials have warned a further £36m will probably have to be shaved from the budget over the next three years.
It has been stung by recent criticism over the controversial introduction of car parking charges which opponents claim will fall far short of delivering the projected £700,000 of annual income to help balance the books, and the threat of strike action by binmen is looming over shift changes patterns which will see collections up to 10pm.