Two of Herefordshire’s most high-profile political figures have been dramatically ousted from key county positions.

The main business of Herefordshire Council’s annual meeting is to appoint its leader, chair and vice-chair, along with chairs and vice-chairs of its various committees.

But in a shock move today, the 12-strong Liberal Democrats group moved to wrest the chairing of the connected communities scrutiny committee from Greens group leader Coun Ellie Chowns, and of the scrutiny management committee from Independents for Herefordshire (i4H) leader Coun Liz Harvey.


With the support of the controlling Conservatives on the council, the two were replaced by Coun Ed O’Driscoll and Coun Ben Proctor respectively, both LibDems.

Coun Chowns said the moves “violated” the principle of proportionality – i.e. that the apportioning of these roles should reflect groups’ overall share of councillors.

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“The Conservatives clearly feel that it suits them to have their LibDem allies in charge of scrutiny,” she said. “Sadly this just demonstrates that they are cut from the same cloth in Herefordshire.”

She added of her i4H opposite number: “No councillor here today is better qualified than Liz to chair scrutiny management.”

Coun Harvey and LibDem leader Coun Terry James were approached for comment.

Non-aligned councillor Jim Kenyon meanwhile chose to step down from the children and young people scrutiny committee, saying this “isn’t doing what it should” and that he had been “closed down” for raising concerns.


Coun Kenyon recently claimed in one such meeting that concerns of foster carers over the county’s fostering system were not being listened to.

“I can be more effective just asking questions at the start of meetings,” he said.

Scrutiny committees are the means by which elected members oversee policies and the work of officers across the different areas of council activity.

Other committee chairs remain unchanged.

Also at the annual meeting, Conservative leader Coun Jonathan Lester was reconfirmed as council leader, with the support of other independents though not of the LibDems, who like the Greens and i4H abstained from the vote, giving Coun Lester 25 out of the 50 votes cast.

Fellow Conservative Coun Roger Phillips remains chair of the council, with Coun Stef Simmons of the Greens as vice-chair.