Mayor exits meeting following complaints

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A mayor has been criticised for making a public complaint about Belper’s town clerk and two councils - then halting a meeting.

Conservative mayor Deborah Biss startled fellow councillors with her comments at the latest Belper Town Council meeting while they were checking details from the minutes of the previous monthly meeting of the authority.

The mayor questioned an item written by town clerk Rosalind Bullimore about the Friends of Belper Parks, which referred to a resident’s objection to the group having a stall at a farmers’ market.

The mayor then went on to claim the Friends group had been unfairly treated by both the town council and Amber Valley Borough Council, then adjourned the meeting.

Cllr Biss, who is a member of the Friends, then said: “I have no option other than to submit a formal complaint. I am going to convene an extraordinary meeting of the council at which the first item will be to discuss and progress my complaint.”

Conservative Cllr Peter Arnold asked: “What has it to do with the accuracy of the minutes?”

The mayor then adjourned the meeting and walked out of the council chamber in St John’s Chapel, Belper.

As councillors sat around the table, Labour opposition leader Alan Broughton said: “I am absolutely appalled at what has just happened.

“This should not have been in the public domain. It is appalling to come out with accusations like this against the clerk.”

And Belper Deputy Mayor Joe Booth, who then briefly took the chair at that point, replied: “I have to agree with that. I think it is bang out of order.”

Members were told the town clerk had the right to lodge a complaint with the Standards Board of Amber Valley Borough Council.

Councillor Jim Anderson claimed: “Everything which has happened tonight is against council policy. ”

Town councillors agreed to end the meeting after 45 minutes without debate on the 34 items remaining on the agenda. It is likely to be completed on November 26.

After the meeting, the town clerk said she was unable to comment on the complaint.

Cllr Biss said she could face pressure to stand down but added: “I am very much going to continue as mayor.

“I had no option other than to submit the complaint at the time I did.

“I brought other items forward to cause the least inconvenience to the public who were present.If the mayor leaves, that ends the meeting.”