'Furious' council leader misses vote on replacement after he’s locked out of building

LOCKED OUT: Departing leader of the city council Cllr Bayliss (inset) missed a vote on his replacement after he was locked out of the Guildhall on Tuesday <i>(Image: Newsquest)</i>
LOCKED OUT: Departing leader of the city council Cllr Bayliss (inset) missed a vote on his replacement after he was locked out of the Guildhall on Tuesday (Image: Newsquest)

THE city council’s departing leader missed the vote to choose his replacement after he was locked out of a council building.

Cllr Marc Bayliss, who stepped down as leader of Worcester City Council earlier this month, had left the council chamber at the Guildhall before the crunch vote on his replacement to ‘fetch something from his car’ only to find that he was unable to get back in for 20 minutes - missing the handover.

Despite several fruitless attempts to get back into the Guildhall, including a shot at ‘almost smashing the front door in,’ he was unable to return to the meeting in time to see deputy leader Cllr Chris Mitchell officially make the step up to the top job.

A furious Cllr Bayliss told the chamber after his return: “I went outside to grab something from the car and all of the doors to this building are locked. There is no way in for any member of the public … I’ve been ringing the doorbell, smashing the front door down nearly to try and get back in.

“We talk about access to the public and hearing our debates and that sort of thing, there’s absolutely no way into this building at night and I call upon the officers to review the situation so that people can get to our meetings if they want to, there is absolutely no way.

“I’ve been out there, banging on the front door, the back door, any door to try and get some attention in this building. I apologise for missing part of this meeting but that’s my explanation for doing it.”

At the full council meeting in the Guildhall on Tuesday (November 29), the Conservatives, who remain the biggest party on the council but do not have a majority, voted to elect Cllr Mitchell as one of the council’s ‘joint leaders’ under May’s supposed power-sharing agreement.

Following local elections in May, the city council fell back into no overall control after just one year with the Conservatives losing its one-seat majority.

The Greens, fresh from several successes at the city’s polls, proposed that leadership of the council was shared by the Conservatives and Labour, but with Labour refusing to co-operate, the council had been led by Cllr Bayliss since.

Labour, who voted against Cllr Mitchell’s nomination, are still refusing to take part and did nominate a co-leader, which means that a Conservative will again be ‘joint’ leader alone.

It might have got tricky with Cllr Bayliss out of the room leaving on14 Conservatives to vote in favour of Cllr Mitchell’s nomination – just nicking through by a single vote with the 13 with Labour, which was also missing a councillor, and the Lib Dems voting against and the Greens, as they did in May, abstaining.

David Blake, the managing director of the city council, apologised to Cllr Bayliss during the meeting and said he would make sure it did not happen again.