Halesworth: Chair urged to quit over claims council is ‘dysfunctional’

Halesworth town sign

Halesworth town sign - Credit: � EDP pics 2004

The chair of a town council has been asked to step down amid accusations the authority is “short changing” the people it should be representing.

At the latest meeting of Halesworth Town Council, councillor Andrew Payne read a statement endorsing the comments of former councillor Stephen Burroughes, who resigned from the authority last month.

He called on chair Annette Dunning to consider her position, while fellow councillor David Thomas said the council was “dysfunctional” and “short changing” the people.

Dr Payne said: “When Douglas Mizon stepped down in April, his letter of resignation was immediately posted in full on the town council website.

“Is it not coincidental that Mr Mizon recorded, in his farewell message, his sense of particular satisfaction in working alongside your good self? (Mrs Dunning)

“Such a sentiment is not contained in Mr Burroughes’ letter, however, and I and others have repeatedly asked when the letter of resignation is to be either published on the website or made public in some form other than a précis in the media.”

Dr Payne added: “I believe many people now recognise a fundamental problem of the council is one of leadership, as Mr Burroughes says, and the problem will not be resolved while you remain in the chair.

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“One of the truths of public life is that those who forfeit public confidence have a duty to resign.

“Will you now please take the honourable course and resign with immediate effect, allowing councillors to elect a new chair to guide us until May’s elections?”

Mrs Dunning responded, saying: “This is the first meeting (since Mr Burroughes’ resignation) to read the letter. Having spoken to Stephen it was nothing I have done. There’s no conspiracy to hide.”

Another councillor, David Thomas, then read out a statement, speaking in support of Mr Burroughes’ letter.

Mr Thomas said: “He is quite right, this council is dysfunctional and is ‘short changing’ the people of Halesworth.

“I have spent a year wrestling how I could get round what has turned out to be insurmountable differences and how, I could help to get things done for the people of Halesworth. I have found it impossible.

“The question for me now is where do I and like-minded councillors go from here?

“Do I follow Mr Burroughes and give up? Or do I continue metaphorically to bang my head against a brick wall and work within this very dysfunctional and dishonourable town council.”

Following this, Dr Payne read another statement, on the working of the council after being ‘rebuffed’ in his plea for Mrs Dunning’s resignation, and said: “Short-changing was the word used by councillor Burroughes, and he clearly did not mean to refer only to the chair. This council, including myself, is broken.

“In my opinion, morale and team-spirit in the councillor corps is nonexistent.

“So what do I do now? I know what I want to do, what every bone in my body cries out for me to do, but Halesworth needs a positive-thinking council to serve its needs.

“Things have to change drastically for the better now, not at the next election when many of us will probably not be re-elected, or even stand.”

Mrs Dunning responded, saying: “We don’t need to be rude and aggressive to each other.

“Part of the (resignation) letter says he can’t stand the appalling behaviour of the councillors who shout and finger point.”

Town councillor Maureen Took said: “I’m sorry this has come to this. He (Mr Burroughes) also said he was extremely busy. Surely we all should be batting for the same side. Let’s all work for Halesworth, that’s what we are here for.”