Monday, 23 October 2017

Flood of resignations

FOUR Whitchurch parish councillors have resigned despite being re-elected, writes James Burton.

FOUR Whitchurch parish councillors have resigned despite being re-elected, writes James Burton.

Vincent Aldridge announced his departure at a council meeting on Monday and Laura Lucas and chairman Harry Butterworth quit shortly afterwards.

The council decided to  co-opt former member Pearl Slatter, even though she had lost the election, because she was the only other candidate.

She accepted but resigned the day afterwards along with Cllrs Lucas and Butterworth.

The council now comprises chairman Keith Brooks, vice-chairman Jim Donahue and newcomers James Norman and Dave Bowen.



The split is believed to stem from a proposal the council made last month to charge sports clubs £400 a year to use the village green.

No decision was taken but Whitchurch Cricket Club opposed the idea along with several parents who feared the village primary school might also be billed.

Following a heated debate at a council meeting on April 13, Cllr Aldridge asked to withdraw from the election but had to stand as the deadline for nominations had passed.

On Monday, Cllrs Butterworth and Lucas argued that, had Cllr Aldridge been allowed to pull out, the parish would have been uncontested and Cllr Slatter would automatically have stayed on. However, Cllrs Donahue and Brooks said the correct procedure was to advertise a vacancy so other candidates could come forward.

This week Cllrs Lucas and Butterworth would not explain their decision.

Cllrs Slatter, Aldridge, Donahue and Brooks could not be reached.

Cllr Lucas said: “I would like to apologise to everyone who voted for me but I felt it was impossible to continue as a parish councillor.”

Cllr Butterworth said: “After more than two decades of service I find myself in a position where I can no longer make any useful contribution to the community.”

Cllrs Brooks and Butterworth also stood for the Kidmore End and Whitchurch seat on South Oxfordshire District Council but lost to Conservative Robert Simister.

Cllr Slatter had previously represented the Conservatives in the district council’s Goring ward but decided not to stand again.

The results were as follows:

Elected

Jim Donahue 343 votes; Keith Brooks 280; Harry Butterworth 265; Vincent Aldridge 244; Laura Lucas 244; James Norman 240; David Bowen 227.

Not elected

Pearl Slatter 189 votes.



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