Minister could be dragged into council row

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Minister for local Government Brandon Lewis could be asked to step in as a rift on Belper Town Council again forced a meeting to be cancelled.

Mayor Deborah Biss is considering approaching the senior politician after proceedings descended into chaos for the third month in a row as councillors refused to be in the same room.

An extraordinary general meeting of the council is also being planned for the New Year in an attempt to resolve the situation.

Cllr Biss said: “I think it may require the involvement with Brandon Lewis. Accountability has to stop somewhere.

“Someone must be held accountable for this situation. No fair hearing can be conducted by those involved.

“I’m quite happy to have ac tions investigated as long as equal scrutiny is given to the clerk and other councillors.”

Councillors were supposed to meet on Tuesday, December 10.

Trouble originally flared when the mayor queried previous minutes taken by the town clerk, which upset some councillors.

They say she should apologise to the clerk, but the mayor has refused, claiming she has nothing to say sorry for.

At the latest meeting, the two opposing groups of councillors sat in separate rooms in St John’s Chapel for an hour and then dispersed.

Some councillors predict the situation at the town council could continue until next May unless an apology is forthcoming.

Councillor Alan Cox said he would not support getting Mr Lewis involved.

He said: “It’s a sad time for Belper. The running of Belper Town Council is nothing to do with people in Westminster. This could reflect very badly on the town.”

Cllr Biss held an open public meeting for people who had attended to speak last Tuesday.

She said: “It’s like naughty children. I hope people realise I have been trying to do the right thing.”

She later told the Belper News: “The public support has astonished me. I’m really pleased people are very concerned. I have done myutmost to resolve the situation.”

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