Town crier quits in protest at council
A TOWN crier in a popular Suffolk resort has resigned his post in protest at the actions of its town council. Charlie Walker, 56, who was also serjeant at mace and keeper of the robes for Aldeburgh, said he was “disillusioned and horrified” at what was going on at the council.
By Richard Smith
A TOWN crier in a popular Suffolk resort has resigned his post in protest at the actions of its town council.
Charlie Walker, 56, who was also serjeant at mace and keeper of the robes for Aldeburgh, said he was “disillusioned and horrified” at what was going on at the council.
In recent months, the authority has dispensed with a long-serving and popular clerk and then changed the locks on his office, and managed to lose two valuable Second World War medals.
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The town council thanked Mr Walker for his 15 years' service but said his views represented only a minority of people.
Mr Walker, who lives in Springfield Road in the town, has been a coastguard for more than 30 years and is a member of the lifeboat crew.
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He used to march up and down the High Street alerting the public to notable events in the town and he loved his voluntary work.
But he decided it was the end of an era in the town when popular town clerk Andrew Harris lost his job.
Mr Harris was replaced as clerk earlier this year after the council adopted a new policy giving a maximum retirement age of 65.
His successor, Elizabeth Durrant, from Stowmarket, has since handed in her resignation for personal reasons.
Mr Walker was also dismayed when it emerged the council had lost two George Medals, awarded to Aldeburgh women for feats of wartime bravery, which it had been given for safekeeping. Suffolk police is looking into the medals' disappearance, but does not think they have been stolen.
Mr Walker said: “Andrew and I worked as a team - we were known as the Municipal Mafia - and I did not agree with what the town council did to Andrew.
“To impose this rule saying somebody has to retire at 65 and give him three months' notice, is not really fair.
“I am very sad at the way things are going on in Aldeburgh and I do not really want to be associated with the present regime.
“I am, like a lot of people in Aldeburgh, quite disillusioned and horrified about what is going on with the town council.
“There was very poor publicity over the whole matter of the way in which the town clerk was disposed of - I think his leaving was very muddled and badly handed and the worst thing was to change the locks when he went. Somebody said it was purely routine, but it had not been done before in 20 years. That was the final slap in the face for the man.
“Then we are told that the George Medals have gone missing and there was the spot of trouble over the location of benches outside the Moot Hall. We also have a boules pitch that no-one uses.”
Hugo Herbert-Jones, deputy mayor, said yesterday: ''Charlie was a very close chum of Andrew's and they worked as a team.
“When the team was broken up by Andrew's retirement, I think Charlie, who had had health problems and had resigned as a town councillor himself, had had enough.
“Charlie represents one strand of opinion in the town. I sympathise with those who feel like that, but we have followed the recognised procedure, as recommended by the Suffolk Association of Local Councils and national guidelines.
“We got legal advice on whether we were conforming with employment law. We were told that we were acting quite legally by having 65 as the retirement age.
“Charlie approached us with his reasons for pulling out, which is quite understood here, and is one school of thought. I do not think it is the majority of the town.”
Mr Herbert-Jones added Mr Walker had been thanked at the annual meeting of the town council for his contribution to the community.