Anger and division after referendum calls to unseat troubled Suffolk council are deemed ‘invalid’
Demands for a parish poll to bring about mass resignation at a troubled Suffolk council have been deemed invalid – leading to further division in the town.
Hadleigh’s former deputy mayor Bill Wilson had proposed a vote of no confidence in the town council and a referendum on whether all councillors should stand down.
Mr Wilson’s motion, proposed at Hadleigh’s annual town meeting on Tuesday, received 24 supporting public votes.
Babergh District Council, which is responsible for calling elections, found the vote had sufficient support - but the request was “invalid as the question was not properly agreed at the meeting”.
Mr Wilson, who said he raised the motion to bring “fresh blood” to the council, from which he resigned in January, said he was “outraged” and claimed the will of the people had been “overridden”. He said town council errors led to the request being invalid.
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However, councillor Trevor Sheldrick said Mr Wilson should have given notice so advice could have been sought to ensure the motion was handled properly.
The row follows a troubled spell for the council, which had to call in mediators earlier this year, following claims of bullying.
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Divisions have emerged between longer-serving councillors and recent arrivals over issues such as the Guildhall, neighbourhood plan and cemetery.
Newer members said there had been a lack of public engagement, while older members responded by accusing some of “trying to bring down the council”.
Councillor Jane Haylock, speaking personally, said some councillors wanted to overturn decisions they disagreed with, even if backed by a majority.
Ms Haylock said it had led to “unpleasant” emails and stress. “I don’t know why these councillors are so determined to bring down the council,” she added. “They have already brought the council into disrepute and I despair for the future.”
Councillor Jan Byrne, also speaking personally, said councillors had worked together to begin with but relations had become “destructive” after “trial by Facebook” led to “nasty” emails towards staff.
Both councillors said a referendum would be costly for the electorate.
Mr Wilson said there was “a lot of anger”, adding “If all else fails we will call a parish meeting and put the motion forward again.”