Bingham town councillors banished from Conservative Party agree to improvement board and told to resign
Two councillors banished from the Conservative Party after harassing their clerk were relentlessly heckled by residents calling for them to resign at a meeting last night.
Tony Wallace also unleashed a scathing verbal attack on fellow Bingham town councillors Francis Purdue-Horan and John Stockwood at the meeting, where it was unanimously agreed an improvement board should be implemented.
The board was recommended by a full meeting of Rushcliffe Borough Council, where the majority of members agreed there was a threat to democracy should the town authority continue to operate unchecked — following a report that found the pair guilty of harassing the clerk.
"We need to recognise just how low we have sunk," Mr Wallace said.
"Bingham Town Council has just about hit rock bottom and that's something that should shame people in this room — those people know who they are."
In contrast to previous actions, Mr Purdue-Horan and Mr Stockwood told the meeting it was now time to listen to the people of Bingham.
While some questioned why the change, Mr Wallace pointed out it was perhaps the pressure of being overlooked by two members of Rushcliffe Borough Council, who attended the meeting.
"I don't want to say I told you so, but..." he said. "You simply cannot treat people the way you did.
"It was shameful then, it is shameful now and it will be shameful tomorrow. I'm not keen to be criticising people but this isn't a get out of jail free card, this is appalling behaviour."
Conservative member Gemma Simms said: "I just want to ask when you're going to stop lying, just tell the truth — why are you pretending and playing games?
"I agree with the improvement board and the process should not have taken this long. They've been found guilty of harassment and are not being held accountable."
Mr Wallace put forward a motion for the council to revert back to having an item for public speaking on the agenda, rather than continuing with submitted questions.
"Last winter, councillors went against my better judgment and voted for changes to stop the public from having a say," said Mr Wallace.
"This council has now got itself into a terrible position and necessarily so. We've lost the trust of the electorate and councillors have come to realise the warnings I gave.
"Let's not be under illusions — I told you so, we should not have done this."
Mr Purdue-Horan said: "I'm extremely pleased we have two members of the borough council's cabinet with us because we are listening and the people want questions asked in the council chamber — and that's perhaps something that we at Rushcliffe level should consider too.
"Although we didn't get the national fame that Handforth Parish Council and Jackie Weaver got, it was sometimes chaotic.
"Maybe listening to the people should be our priority."
Mr Stockwood added: "During the pandemic we made a number of changes to how meetings occurred. If you look around to other councils like Ollerton, they still have virtual meetings online which say you should have written questions to the clerk.
"It was clear that it would be a 12-month trial. If people didn't like the improvement, we can go back to the old way."
The council voted unanimously to revert back to the old style of public questions.
Resident and former Bingham mayor Jane Costello asked if the two would now resign seeing as they were now 'listening to the people', and if the committee structure had changed due to the expulsions.
The mayor, Andrew Shelton, said there was now only a small number of official Conservatives, but it would be for the council to decide.
He said he would support the setting up of an improvement board and would meet with Rushcliffe leader Simon Robinson and chief executive of Nottinghamshire County Council Anthony May.