25th Oct, 2016

Queen's man under fire

Evesham Editorial 17th Jul, 2015 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

THE QUEEN’S representative for Worcestershire has come under attack, with councillors accusing him of not being ‘open and transparent’.

Members of Worcestershire County Council’s Labour group slammed Lord Lieutenant Patrick Holcroft at a full council meeting last Thursday (June 9).

Their anger comes after he is understood to have refused to attend a meeting where councillors were intending to quiz him about his position.

Lt Col Holcroft is believed to receive about £20,000 of taxpayers money a year and Labour leader Coun Peter McDonald said he should ‘justify every penny’ spent.

But other councillors accused Labour members of ‘attacking the monarchy’ before the motion was defeated by 35 to ten.

Coun Richard Udall, who chairs the Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board, said he was ‘shocked’ and ‘disappointed’ when Lt Col Holcroft declined to attend one of their meetings.

“I thought it would have been within his interest to attend as he could explain what he does, inform us about his role and see if the county council would even be able to support him better,” he said.

“There was no alternative agenda, just to desire to shine a spotlight onto a position which is still clouded in mystery.”

Coun Chris Bloore believed he should fill out an expenses form, which would be available for the public to read, while Coun McDonald questioned the reason for having a Queen’s representative in Worcestershire.

“For all the pomp and ceremony, the Lord Lieutenant has no real power yet he can spend the people’s money and treat them with utter contempt by refusing to be open and transparent,” Coun McDonald said.

“Quite clearly this raises a question is the Lord Lieutenant a regal symbol of Britain’s glorious history or is the Lord Lieutenant an anachronism that has no place in a modern society?”

However, their calls were criticised by the other parties, with Liberal Democrat councillor Coun Liz Tucker telling Labour Party members to ‘shut up’ and claiming they were being ‘offensive and irritating’.

“If you want to have an argument, have it about the person at the top – the Queen – not the small fry underneath,” she said.

“And it is worth remembering that many of our residents do take great pleasure from the ceremonial recognition at civic events that the role of Lord Lieutenant brings.”

Coun Pam Davey described it as a ‘thinly veiled attack on the monarchy’, while Coun John Campion, cabinet member for children and families, added: “For me this is not the not for this county council to question the sovereign or indeed the representative here.

“We are talking about the administrative costs of visits associated with important events, we are not talking about his pay because he does not get any.”