Key decisions will not involve town’s mayor

Mayor Deborah Biss will not be involved in key decisions made by Belper Town Council, after councillors set-up a new committee – and stopped her from joining.

An extraodinary meeting of the council was called on Monday following months of angry exchanges between two rival factions, with councillors refusing to be in the same room.

Mayor Deborah Biss had said she wanted the meeting cancelled and did not turn up. However, councillors pressed on with forming a “general purposes committee” in her absence.

The mayor will not be allowed to take part in the new committee meetings, along with Councillor David Fisher. It will take over a raft of the council’s responsibilities until the end of the mayor’s term of office in May.

Councillor Alan Cox, who proposed the new group, said: “It’s been obvious to councillors, members of the public and press this council has not been functioning.”

Previous mayor, Councillor Mark Robertson, said: “I find it heartbreaking the way it’s gone on the last few months. I hope with this committee we can move forward for the town.”

Councillor Alan Broughton added: “Over the last few months I have seen things take place at this council which are appalling. I can’t tell the public the appalling events I have witnessed which are continuing to happen.”

The new committee will be able to deal with planning applications, income and expenditure, grant applications and relate with ouside bodies.

However, the full council will still set the precept, approve accounts and be responsible for the code of conduct and general competence of councillors.

Troubled flared on the authority in November when Councillor Biss claimed that the Friends of Belper Parks had been unfairly treated by both the town council and Amber Valley Borough Council.

The mayor also criticised the actions of the town clerk. Councillor Cox told the latest meeting: “Councillors who were at that meeting, to put it mildly were gobsmacked. Everybody sat there with their mouths open.”

The new committee consists of 14 of the 16 town councillors. Councillor Biss and councillor David Fisher, who is also a member of Friends of Belper Parks, were the only councillors not considered for membership.

Councillor Cox said: “I felt councillor Fisher was too close to the mayor and should not be put forward for the committee.”

Councillor Fisher responded: “If you’re right and you’re in the minority of one you’re still right.”

Following the meeting councillor Biss said she felt the move was “completely undemocratic”.

She added: “It will prevent myself andCouncillor Fisher from performing our duties on the council. Why can’t the complaints get a hearing?”