An ongoing dispute over an alleged councillor ‘name and shame list’ reached boiling point at St Leonards Community Council’s first meeting of the New Year.
A war of words ensued between Councillor Jim Wardhaugh and chairman Graeme Macklin after members voted to keep the names of elected area councillors, who do not attend the public meetings, on the agenda.
The row resulted in Councillor Wardhaugh walking out of the January meeting and vowing never to return unless councillors Sheena Wardhaugh, Gladys Miller and Anne Maggs’ names are removed.
Community council vice-chair David Bain also walked out of the meeting a short time later as he’d reportedly ‘had enough of it all’.
Elected councillors have no obligation to attend community council meetings.
Chairman Graeme Macklin has since accused Councillor Wardhaugh of ‘threatening’ and ‘attempting to influence’ members by saying: “The names are there for information and reference to let people know who their area councillors are – there is nothing political about it.
“We had a democratic vote on it at our January meeting and before it was taken Jim threatened all my members by saying ‘I want all the names off and if not, I’m out of here’.
“It was wrong of him to put a gun to their heads prior to a vote. He was influencing their decision. It was abominable behaviour. He was bang out of order and needs to give a public apology.
“I’m responsible for what goes on our paperwork. He does not tell community councils how to run their business.”
The following day secretary Gwen Jordan received an email from Sheena Wardhaugh, Gladys Miller and Anne Maggs with their apologies which stated that they would not be at the February meeting or any future community council meetings.
Councillor Wardhaugh defended the walk-out by saying: “Graeme is trying to force councillors to attend these meetings and has been encouraging other people to take the same view for years.
“That list of councillors is the latest in a long line of attempts to highlight it on the agenda – it just gets tedious. I’ve made my views quite clear on naming and shaming councillors. It should not be part of the agenda.
“Graeme may want to ask himself why area councillors attend other community council meetings, but not his. He should have a drastic rethink of how he operates the community council. It’s become the main business for the last year or two.”
The next meeting takes place at Blacklaw Community Hall on February 27 at 7.30pm.