Posted: 17.06.20 at 18:21 by Nick Hudson
ATHERSTONE’s civic leader is facing the threat of having her term of office halved in a dramatic intervention by a monitoring authority, Nub News understands.
Last month coronavirus was given as a substantive reason Denise Clews was being installed as chairman and mayor of Atherstone Town Council for a two-year stint.
The decision – opposed by Labour members on the authority – was voted through by the Tory majority in view of the “present situation” regarding the Covid-19 pandemic.
The first ‘virtual’ gathering in the authority’s history – with all the action relayed courtesy of Zoom collaboration – produced a number of political divergences of opinion on how the town council should be led in the coming years including whether to “reunite” its two leading roles.
Central member Jacky Chambers pushed for the status quo to be maintained with a separate chairman and mayor which has been in situ for the year 2019/20.
Councillor Chambers felt the move which saw Councillor David Wright as chairman and Councillor Carl Gurney as mayor last year had “worked extremely well in terms of the distribution of workload and the ways both those roles were fulfilled”.
She called for the “the split” to be maintained despite the “custom and practice” of previous years for the duties to be carried out by one person, adding: “I think it very helpful to have two different individuals fulfilling them.”
But Nubs News has been told that the town clerks have been advised by the Warwickshire Association of Local Councils that Councillor Clews cannot remain in situ for two years.
County officer John Crossling had reportedly told the town councillors they must go back to drawing board and find a civic leader for year 2021/22 which puts current Councillor Ray Jarvis to be mayor of both town and borough councils at the same time – as he is currently “next in line” to be first citizen of North Warwickshire next May.
It appears Councillor Wright could have stayed for a second year under the terms agreed by the WALC – but not for any new incoming leader.
The matter looks set to be raised at tonight’s second virtual meeting of the council, although it not currently on the agenda.