Five resign from town council in 'bitching' row

A TOWN council in one of Suffolk's most genteel resorts has been left in turmoil following the sudden resignation of five councillors amid accusations of bitching and bickering.

Craig Robinson

A TOWN council in one of Suffolk's most genteel resorts has been left in turmoil following the sudden resignation of five councillors amid accusations of bitching and bickering.

Former mayor Jimmy Robinson, district councillor Marianne Fellowes, TJ Haworth, Alison Foxon and Caron Hill have all stepped down from Aldeburgh Town Council.

The resignations were made public at a heated meeting on Monday night and means the authority has lost almost a third of its 16 members who make up the full council.

Ms Fellowes, who is a member of Suffolk Coastal District Council, resigned at the meeting while the other four councillors sent letters to town clerk Lindsay Lee after Christmas.

Speaking to the EADT yesterday former mayor Mr Robinson, who had been on the council for four years, said he chose to step down to devote more time to his printing business, Fuller Davies Ltd.

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However he said the level of bickering had been a contributing factor to his decision along with the slowness of decision making at all levels of government.

“I employ 23 people - I'm responsible for their families as well as my own,” he said. “It became increasingly difficult to spare the time to do things. If you join a committee or council or anything like that I believe you have to actually get involved.

“I was very honoured - I enjoyed my time on the council and I'm sad to be stepping down. I thought long and hard about it because I did enjoy it but it got to the point where I wasn't able to do full time work as I should do.”

Mr Robinson said he would continue to serve the Aldeburgh community and would still be in charge of a number of one off projects, including the annual Christmas lights switch on.

Ms Fellowes, who had been on the town council since 2002 and will continue as a district councillor, said: “I have been honoured to represent those who elected me to this position. I have supported decisions of the council and worked hard to resolve any differences despite personal opinions.

“When something has been voted on or discussed I have taken that on in a positive way. In 2009 I found it increasingly difficult to achieve what the public elected me to do as a town councillor. You can't work productively or positively if you are not working together.”

TJ Haworth, who had been on the council since 2005, wished the remaining councillors all the best for the future and also said it had been a tough decision to stand down.

“I decided to join the council because I wanted to serve the community and I always believed the public's opinion should be represented,” she said. “Unfortunately there was a lot of bickering and it felt that in many cases we were fighting a losing battle to get anything done.”

She said she would continue as a governor of Aldeburgh Primary School and would still serve the community, helping with one off projects.

Miss Foxon, a teacher at Aldeburgh Primary School, who had been on the council for three years, said she was stepping down because of work commitments.

She said she was very grateful that people had voted for her in the past and hoped to be able to continue to work for the community.

“I feel that I can achieve more in my roles away from the council,” she said.

At the meeting on Monday Dennis Peel, who has only recently been elected to the town council, called for a better atmosphere within the chamber during meetings.

“Obviously in these meetings we don't see eye to eye in certain cases but it is very uncomfortable sitting here watching people sniping at each other,” he said.

Mayor Kevin Webster assured Mr Peel that the current situation would not be tolerated.

“Things will not continue as they are or as they have been,” he told the meeting. “The bitching stops now. If anyone has an issue they should come to me and me alone. I will make a decision as to what to do with it. I would like everyone in this room to go through their Standing Orders so they know exactly where they stand in the council chamber.”

In a statement issued last night by the town council the five councillors were thanked for their hard work and commitment.

“The Council will now be seeking to fill the vacant seats and will be looking forward to a positive and productive New Year,” the statement said.

Caron Hill was unavailable for comment yesterday.