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 quit on May 12 when he passed over the mayoral robes to Councillor Mike Kean.

At a Whitchurch Town Council 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 |“potentially damaging comments”.

However, a copy was obtained 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.

“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.”

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 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 announced his resignation because he did not agree on “some matters of policy.”

In his resignation letter, Mr Clark said: “I am very content with my conscience that if the 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.”

In response, the town council said: “Whitchurch Town Council has considered John Clark’s resignation letter, has dealt with it appropriately and moved on.

“In many respects the comments are laughable. They also bring the council into disrepute as they are, arguably, libellous.”