Resignation threat over backbench rebellion at council

Berkhamsted Town Hall

Berkhamsted Town Hall

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Berkhamsted Town Council bosses are facing a rebellion from one of their own backbenchers at a meeting tonight (Monday, December 14).

Conservative councillor John Higgins has put forward a ‘no confidence’ motion against his own party, which will be heard at the town council meeting at the Civic Centre.

And the motion, which has been published on the council’s website, lists an array of complaints against the 
authority.

He claims the council ‘ignores its own governance structures,’ and that senior councillors ‘do not embrace the principles of open government’ and ‘stifle debate’.

He also includes a list of topics – including cycle racks, organisation, and the impending multi-storey car park – which he says were quashed by his fellow councillors as not being up for discussion.

Mr Higgins, who has lived in the town for more than 30 years, said: “I have talked to nearly all my fellow councillors and it was extremely rewarding.

“They were very sympathetic and saw a lot of merit in what I was saying, but I did not extract any promises of a vote on Monday.”

Mr Higgins admits he is unsure how many, if any, of his council colleagues will second his motion, and says he will have to consider stepping down if none of his fellow Tories support him.

He added: “I realise it’s a high-risk strategy but I truly believe there is evidence in the papers that supports my motion.

“In the cold light of day I think all councillors should agree, but I’m not betting my house on it.

“If nobody supports me at all, I will have to leave as a councillor.”

Town council leader David Collins played down the fears and emphasised the council’s democratic credentials.

He said: “The town council is focusing on the key issues and delivering the manifesto that was fully endorsed by the electorate – and the town councillors – at the time of the election.

“Councillor Higgins will say for himself what his views are, but I believe the town council is extremely democratic, and we are always open to new ideas on how to improve the town.

“In 2011, we had a 50 per cent turn out to the election but this year we had 75 per cent, so to say we are not engaging with our residents is wrong.”

The motion will be heard at the full meeting of Berkhamsted Town Council on Monday evening (December 14).