May 19 2013 Latest news:
By John Elworthy , The Editor
Thursday, October 11, 2012
WHITTLESEY councillor Martin Curtis said tonight he was baffled by his sacking as vice chairman of Fenland District Council Planning Committee.
He said he had been phoned last night by Council Leader Alan Melton and asked to resign but refused.
“My sacking has baffled me and others,” he wrote on his blog.
“Cllr Melton invited me resign to prevent the indignity of being sacked. I asked for the reason for this and I was told it was because of ‘community perception’. I challenged and suggested that I had not seen or heard any issues in respect of this.”
He said that “having consulted a few people, I chose to decline the request.”
Cllr Curtis, who stepped down from the committee during recent debates on ‘supermarket-gate’ to press for Sainsbury’s to win the vote, said he was surprised Cllr Melton wanted him gone.
He told the council leader that “I have decided to refuse your request to resign. If you believe I should go on the basis of public perception (which is what you stated) that a debate needs to be had in public and I would therefore prefer the process to be transparent, rather than a fudge through forced resignation.”
Cllr Curtis said there was “huge support for my behaviour in this process from across the board - but certainly there are politicians and others who do not like the robust approach I have taken.
“Sometimes I think being an elected community leader means you have to do that. I hope that is not the reason for my sacking if it is it sends a dreadful, dreadful message to other councillors who choose to stand up and be counted when they feel their community has been let down (which Whittlesey has).”
He added: “It is also true that I had been considering resignation anyway because I was so disappointed with the actions taken by a few people at the last planning meeting - but I was waiting for Cllr Melton’s reaction to events before I took a decision.
“However, there is a difference between being forced to resign and resigning as a matter of conscience - and that is why I took the decision to refuse the request.”
Cllr Melton’s decision to axe Cllr Curtis was one of a number of measures announced earlier today and followed advice given to the council by a QC.
He said the issue of member involvement and behaviour was also raised, before, during and after the relevant planning committee meetings.
“The barrister informed us that member behaviour raised a number of issues, and that the reasons for the planning committee decisions were not substantial planning reasons with which to overturn officer advice,” said Cllr Melton.
“Subsequently, we were advised to take measures to mitigate the decisions.”