POOLE’S council leader has defended her actions in dismissing Cllr Judy Butt from her cabinet.

Cllr Elaine Atkinson said she had to put the needs of the whole borough first and a cabinet position was one of “collective responsibility”.

Creekmoor Conservative Cllr Butt, who remains a ward councillor, stood up for her residents who are campaigning against Borough of Poole proposals for a summer traveller site at Marshes End.

Cllr Atkinson said that as portfolio holder Cllr Butt heard the views of many residents about illegal gypsy and traveller encampments last summer and organised a multi-agency meeting with police, fire, NHS, residents associations and the council.

Held last October, clear recommendations emerged that a solution, even temporary, be sought within the borough for this summer.

“Cllr Judy Butt moved these recommendations forward at cabinet in November and reiterated them again at council in December,” she said.

“Until one of the sites for further exploration was found within her ward she fully supported the recommendations that had been made.

“At cabinet in January Cllr Judy Butt is minuted as having said, ‘she realised she had a duty as a cabinet member but she was a ward councillor and the ward issues came first in her view’.”

Cllr Atkinson said Cllr Butt had a choice and had she not been as vocal in the beginning, she could have chosen to oppose the application on planning grounds when it goes to committee.

“I hold Judy in high esteem personally and professionally but I must put the needs of the whole borough first,” she said.

“I would question those challenging my leadership decision to remember that I have been the first leader of the council to create the position of public engagement and participation portfolio in Poole’s cabinet and I’m delighted it’s worked so well and is so highly valued.”