A FORMER Whitchurch Mayor, who suddenly resigned after 31 years on the council, said he was “deeply hurt” by an allegation that he had orchestrated the resignation of four councillors.
John Clark stepped down on May 12, after he passed over the Mayoral robes to Councillor Mike Kean.
At Whitchurch Town Council’s latest meeting on Monday, Cllr Kean said he had been advised by a solicitor not to read out Mr Clark’s resignation letter because it contained “potential damaging comments”.
But The Gazette has obtained a copy using the Freedom of Information Act.
In it, Mr Clark said: “With what has happened in the last 12 months, to stay would be somewhat hypocritical.”
He added: “One particular aspect which influenced my decision – and left me feeling deeply hurt – was an allegation from a fellow councillor that, somehow, I had orchestrated the resignations of four councillors during my year.
“In many respects, the comments are laughable. They also bring the council into disrepute as they are, arguably, libellous.
“The reasons for the resignations were plainly stated at the time, and to be accused otherwise – after 31 years of acting in nothing other than the best interests of Whitchurch – left me in disgust.”
As previously reported in The Gazette, Jackie Day, Linda Thomas and Paul McGarvey all stood down in October last year citing a “lack of support” as one of their reasons. Mrs Day also referred to “unacceptable communications” within the town council.
When asked by The Gazette at the time what these communications were, she said she was unable to say and had left it open for Mr Clark, who was Mayor at the time, to elaborate.
The following month, Allan Vaughan also announced his resignation, because he did not agree on “some matters of policy.”
Mr Clark declined to comment on any of the resignations at the time, but did say there had been an “underlying current”.
In his resignation letter, he said: “I am very content with my conscience that if town council officially resolve an item that I voted against, the result would, nevertheless, receive my full and unqualified support.”
He said the “final straw” came when he was “ambushed” at the end of a committee meeting in February, when he said he was told he was “not allowed to communicate directly with the clerk.”
He added: “To receive no warning of this meeting beforehand was bad enough, but what I find so disappointing is that the clerk could not inform me personally of her inability to cope. If she had done so, the ‘ambush’ might not have been necessary.
“I do not believe that I have had the full support of the clerk or town council in the last 12 months, and this is, therefore, the right time to stand down.”
He said he hoped the town council could “pull together, not just for the future of Whitchurch, but for the future of Whitchurch Town Council.”
A statement from Whitchurch Town Council said: “Whitchurch Town Council has considered John Clark’s resignation letter, has dealt with it appropriately, and has moved on.”
- NO requests have been made to hold an election in Whitchurch to fill two vacant seats.
Whitchurch Town Council clerk Cathy Burt told councillors at their June meeting that this will mean a co-option will be held instead.
Those who apply will be asked to give a presentation to the council.
The two seats are vacant following the resignation of John Clark and the death of Peter Williams.