“A dramatic bid to dissolve Honiton Town Council and give residents the choice to re-elect members has been foiled – prompting the resignation of two more councillors.
Graham Smith launched the motion at an extraordinary meeting of the council on Monday – just one week after Ashley Delasalle spectacularly quit just minutes into her mayoral term.
Addressing the council before the town’s new mayor was voted in, Mr Smith said recent events have added to the “mistrust” and “lack of confidence” the public have in the council.
Mr Smith added: “I fear that no amount of mediation will resolve the differences we have or change the way some councillors conduct themselves with little or no respect for others.
“With this in mind, and to win back the confidence of the town’s people I would like to make a proposal that we vote to do the honourable thing and dissolve this council with every member resigning, call a full town council election and let the people of Honiton decide who they want and trust to form a new council.”
Deputy leader Cllr Henry Brown was forced to adjourn the meeting for five minutes as he discussed the legalities with the deputy clerk, before allowing councillors to discuss the bid.
But he told the council: “You cannot hold this vote because you cannot bar councillors from serving. Resignation is a personal matter and the legality of that says you cannot force councillors to resign.”
Cllr Caroline Kolek said councillors had been put into an “impossible situation” because of Mr Smith’s proposal, adding that we are “damned if we do, damned if we don’t”.
Cllr John Zarcynski, who was voted in as mayor after the debate, said: “For me to resign as a councillor would be showing disrespect and disregard for all those voters who turned out and voted for me. I believe now, we have got the opportunity to rebuild this council and restore unity.”
Following the discussion, Mr Smith and former deputy mayor Jackie Wadsworth resigned and walked out of the meeting.
They follow Mrs Delasalle, former mayor Peter Halse, Luke Harvey-Ingram and David Perkins in quitting the council in the last week.”