Deputy mayor resigns in football cash row

A DEPUTY Mayor has said she had “no choice” but to stand down after being blamed for a council committing �50,000 of taxpayers' money to a football club.

Russell Claydon

A DEPUTY Mayor has said she had “no choice” but to stand down after being blamed for a council committing �50,000 of taxpayers' money to a football club.

Sue Ayres has tendered her resignation to Sudbury Town Council after a row erupted over who was responsible for the cash mix-up.

The cash to go towards AFC Sudbury's stadium expansion project was only meant to be given if the council could bring it in from a developer under Section 106 funds. But before that bid fell through AFC chiefs put it in their match-funded bid to the Football Association, after they felt it had been signalled it was definitely coming.

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It resulted in councillors deciding to give the money out of the reserves, in case its withdrawal meant the �2million project collapsed. Residents in Sudbury will now have to foot the bill with a 6% rise in the town precept from April.

Last night Mrs Ayres - due to become mayor in May - said she had been forced to resign because some councillors turned on her after the EADT made the fiasco public. The row centred over comments she made to club officials at a hospitality event.

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“To be absolutely hung, drawn and quartered for a chance remark is absolutely unfair,” she said. “Had I written a letter saying 'you are definitely going to get �50,000 from us' then I would have been in trouble.

“In my enthusiasm I had said it was my idea we applied to Babergh to get section 106 money and that is all I have done.

“I was told at a meeting we were 99.9% assured we would get it and then, of course, it all fell through.”

Her resignation, which was posted up outside the Town Hall on Wednesday, stated it was “due to family commitments and an illness”.

Mrs Ayres, 61, a retired teacher, said: “I have been very upset about it. I have got a health problem and a son with severe epilepsy. I have had all that pressure as well and I am just totally sick of the whole thing.

“To be honest I really care about this town - I was chairman of the leisure, chairman of the finance (committees) and I think sometimes I did far more than my fair share.”

She accused some fellow members of “knifing her in the back” and said she had decided to shut the door on her time in local government as a result. She will continue her fundraising for good causes and involvement in the town's twinning scheme.

Sue Brotherwood, town clerk of Sudbury Town Council, said: “We are sad to lose her. She worked very hard on behalf of the council and was very popular. Sadly, a misplaced word has seen her fall on her sword.”

John Sayers, the leader of the Conservatives at Sudbury Town Council, of which Mrs Ayres was a member, said: “She was seen to be doing a good job stepping in for Adrian (town mayor) during his illness and carrying the Sudbury banner really proudly. I thought it is sad she had to resign.”

Mark Pearman, a spokesman for AFC Sudbury, said: “We have a fantastic relationship with our town council, always have and will continue to do in the future. It really is not our policy to comment on the internal business of the town council.”

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