Halesworth: Two more representatives step down from town council

Halesworth Thoroughfare

Halesworth Thoroughfare - Credit: Archant

Two more representatives in a market town have suddenly stepped down, bringing the total number of resignations to nine in the past 18 months.

Halesworth town councillors Andrew Payne and David Thomas are the latest to go, only weeks after Stephen Burroughes resigned.

In his resignation letter addressing town council chairman Annette Dunning and the electorate of Halesworth, Dr Payne said he could no longer remain a town councillor, saying the council’s inability to embrace the needs of the present and to build a future is “hamstrung” and added: “I know in the eyes of many parishioners, the council is now a laughing stock.

“There is simply no esprit de corps within the council.

“Halesworth is being short-changed – by its current town council and likely too by its over-arching councils – and my personal integrity as an individual and a proud townsperson is being compromised by my membership of council.

“I have tried not to jeopardise my council activities by missing important meetings or events, but the happenings of the past few months in particular have raised my personal levels of discomfort to a state where ‘enough is enough’ and I need to move aside.

“If allowed to in future, however, I will satisfy my community support aspirations through active involvement in organisations that I believe are serving the town proud, such as its community transport, the library, Halesworth in Bloom, and the Halesworth and Blyth Valley Partnership.

Most Read

“All of these are achieving wonderful results for the town, most supported financially in part by the council, but still needing all the support they can get.

“I will be proud to help them in future, if asked to do so.”

At the last town council meeting Dr Payne called for Mrs Dunning to step down, though he was rebuffed in his plea.

Mr Thomas added Arthur Charvonia, deputy chief executive of Waveney District Council attended a meeting of a the council two years ago, and that the subsequent report was damning.

Mr Thomas said: “His report remains as valid and pertinent today as it was then.

“The council exists to serve the people of Halesworth. Membership of the council is a commitment to work for the betterment of the town: the title of councillor is not idly to be paraded to embellish a CV.”

Since May 2013, nine Halesworth town councillors have resigned.

Ezra Leverett, Sandra Leverett, David Fosdike and Andrew Jones all resigned

at a meeting on May 13 of last year.

Mrs Dunning was made chairman later in that same meeting. Janet Wright stepped down the following day.

In a joint statement the five councillors said resigning was a difficult decision to reach but “in the light of all the circumstances we are unable to continue in our roles”.

The town council had been rocked in recent weeks as councillors came under personal attacks on social networking sites.

In a separate resignation letter from Mr Fosdike, he said: “It is a difficult decision to come to but due to many different reasons feel it be in the best interests, not only for myself, but more so for the town and its parishioners, that this be my cause of action.”

In April of this year, Douglas Mizon retired from the council as he turned 70, and in August, Stephen Burroughes resigned from the council.

He had been promoted to the position of Education and Children’s Services scrutiny committee chairman at Suffolk County Council.

He said the council needed a shake up and to “pull themselves together and move on.”

He added the council was “short-changing” the people of Halesworth.

Mrs Dunning was last night unavailable for comment.