Launch of petition calling for all members of Oundle Town Council to resign

A petition has been launched in Oundle following last week's meeting
A petition has been launched in Oundle following last week's meeting

More than 200 people have signed a petition calling for all members of a town council to resign.

The online petition was launched following a meeting of Oundle Town Council last Tuesday in which six councillors resigned, including the town’s mayor.

Their resignations relate to a decision taken in December about whether the council should be a level three or four authority, which relates to the size of the authority.

The decision taken in December was later rescinded by a group of eight councillors.

While this is allowed as more than four signatures were gathered, the remaining members of the council believed this to be inappropriate because they say they were not consulted on it and have said they plan to resign their positions because of it.

Following their resignations, an online petition calling for all members of the council to step down has been launched.

The online petition states: “There hasn’t been a full town council election in Oundle since 2007.

“An election is desperately needed in order to rebuild our council so that Oundle can continue to progress as a town.

“In order to trigger an election we would respectfully ask the few remaining town councillors to resign their posts (as eight others have already done at the time of writing).

“This is by no means a personal attack on those councillors still in their posts and of course, they are more than welcome to stand for re-election.

“However, in order to restore public faith in Oundle Town Council and heal the serious wounds which have been opened recently, a full election for all 14 seats is essential.

“We, the undersigned, ask all Oundle town councillors who haven’t already done so, to resign their posts with immediate effect.”

The petition was started by Paul Kirkpatrick.

He said: “I attended the Oundle Town Council meeting on Tuesday and watched six councillors resign.

“Two more had already done so and another resigned on February 17 so we are now down to five out of 14.

“Rather than the council co-opting new councillors here and there and limping forward, I believe that a full election would restore the town’s faith in the council and ensure that the best candidates end up in the council chamber.

“The current remaining councillors could also stand and, if elected, operate in the knowledge that they have a genuine democratic mandate.

“My petition is not a slight on any individual councillor or councillors and was started in response to the feeling I got from townspeople that they want an election.”

He added: “If we do get a full election, the people of Oundle will once again feel they have a stake in their council.”

Paul King, who was the town mayor, was one of those who resigned.

He said: “I like to support the community as much as I can but there comes a point when the institution is more important than any individual.

“For the town to be able to go to elections may be the best way around it.

“We have got to remember that we have staff who rely on us.”

He added: “I am a very proud town councillor but at the moment it is best that we do things for the good of the institution rather than the good of individuals.”

Another councillor who stepped down last week described the council as ‘broken.’

About 50 people attended last week’s meeting.

A spokesman for East Northants Council said one councillor had formally resigned their position as a member of Oundle Town Council so far, but they were aware that more resignations may come in.

The Northants Telegraph has asked Oundle Town Council for a comment but has not yet had a response.

However, a notice posted on the council website today (Tuesday) states: “Notice is hereby given that eight casual vacancies have occurred in the office of councillor for Oundle Town Council following the resignations of: Ann Fitzgerald, Julie Grove, Paul King, Matthias Menck, Debbie Murphy, Sue Oakes, Terry Stagg, Ian Talbot.

“If by the 7th day of March 2016 (14 days after the date of this notice), a request for an election to fill the said vacancies is made in writing to the returning officer at East Northamptonshire House, Cedar drive, Thrapston, NN14 4LZ by ten electors of the parish of Oundle, an election will be held to fill the said vacancies, otherwise the said vacancies will be filled by co-option.”

Oundle had an uncontested election in May 2015.