Councillor quits post

A COUNCILLOR facing a disciplinary hearing at a tribunal after complaints were made against him has quit his post.

Laurence Cawley

A COUNCILLOR facing a disciplinary hearing at a tribunal after complaints were made against him has quit his post.

The Adjudication Panel for England was due to look at the involvement of Forest Heath District Council members Terry Waters and John McGhee in a planning application lodged by Water's son James.

The hearing, due to take place next month at the Priory Hotel in Bury St Edmunds, followed a finding in 2007 by the Local Government Ombudsman that there had been “maladministration causing injustice” in the way the application was handled by the council.

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Both Mr Waters and Mr McGhee always denied any wrongdoing but the Standards Board for England, after investigating the matter, referred the case to the Adjudication Panel for England, which can disqualify people from being councillors for five years.

But yesterday Mr Waters, who had represented Eriswell and The Rows, revealed he had quit the council rather than attend the hearing.

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Terry Waters, who had represented Eriswell and The Rows on Forest Heath District Council, claimed he would not have got a fair hearing. He also claimed, in a letter to the council's chief executive, that he no longer had “any faith in the integrity of the senior officers at Forest Heath”.

He said: “I feel I can serve my community and the people that elected me better as an ordinary member of the public where at least I will then be free to speak my mind.

“I believe if you say anything against the officers they silence you by having you suspended as a councillor. If they would like to take me to a proper, legal court I will be more than happy to go but this won't happen.

“I refuse to be 'gagged' and once you are suspended you cannot say anything. Do not think when I am no longer a councillor I will sit and be quiet. To the contrary, I will bring out the true facts so the public who elected me can make up their own minds.”

Mr McGhee said: “I have confirmed that I will be there. I will be having legal representation. I deny any wrongdoing. It has been more than two and a half years hanging over my head. It has been crazy.”

A spokeswoman for the council said: “I confirm that the council has now received formal notification of Terry Waters' resignation from Forest Heath District Council.”

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