OPPOSITION members were playing “childish pub politics” by publicly calling on a cabinet member to resign, Shropshire Council’s leader has said.

Liberal Democrat leader Roger Evans tabled a motion asking highways portfolio holder Steve Davenport to step down, saying the buck should stop with him over the “general failure” of the authority and contractors to deal with the “growing number of potholes”.

Cllr Davenport did not speak in the debate, held during a full session of the 74-member council, but leader Peter Nutting gave him his “total support”.

Councillors did not get a chance to vote on the motion, as a proposal to end the debate early was approved by a majority.

The motion said: “Council notes that, during the whole of 2019, councillors have been raising issues about the growing number of potholes and the general failure of Shropshire Highways and its contractors to deal with these issues.

“When a department fails it used to be the norm that the political person answerable for that department resigns.”

Liberal Democrat David Vasmer, who represents Underdale, said the highways department was “out of control” as a result of poor management.

“Good members of staff have resigned or gone to other departments because they feel their work is not being appreciated,” he said.

“In politics, you have to take responsibility for the things you run.”

Independent Cleobury Mortimer councillor Madge Shineton said: “My perception is that, over the last two years, the procedure and processes that have been in place when we, parish councillors or others put in a complaint about a road defect have become so torturous and oblique that all it does is pass the parcel on to whoever.

“The ‘whoevers’, then, are often not there.”

Conservative councillor Brian Williams, who represents The Meres, proposed a “move-on” motion, that would end discussion of Cllr Evans’s motion before a vote could be taken. Members voted by a majority to back Cllr Williams.

Cllr Nutting said the discussion about Cllr Davenport’s position was “childish and unbecoming of a council of the status of Shropshire”.

The Conservative leader added: “I think it undermines the work of highways and it’s pub politics being carried out just because there is an election next year.

“Cllr Davenport has my total support.”

Last week, shortly after the agenda for the full council meeting was published, Cllr Davenport, who represents the St Martin’s ward, said he would not resign from the cabinet.

He said he recognised the council would have to “do more with less”, with £15 million gone from his budget over three years, and that the consultant, hired by the council to look at the whole transport system, was making changes likely to save “millions of pounds” in the long run.