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Newmarket council spat distracting councillors from working together to improve the town, authority is told




The political turmoil at a town authority which has boiled over into a public spat is distracting councillors from working together to improve the community it serves, the monitoring officer has said.

Members of West Suffolk Council’s standards committee criticised Newmarket Town Council after an argument between its members spilled on to the pages of the Journal, the sister title to Suffolk News.

Leah Mickleborough, the monitoring officer at West Suffolk Council, told the committee it was a ‘real shame’ to see relations at the town council break down again.

West Suffolk House (43615335)
West Suffolk House (43615335)

“I think our communities want to see our councillors, disregarding who they stood or stand for, working together to do good things in the community they are elected to represent, and division and disharmony distracts from that,” she said.

Her comments were made after Cllr Andy Drummond, former Newmarket mayor, wrote to the Journal attacking mayor Cllr Michael Jefferys and other councillors, branding them‘incompetent’.

Conservative Cllr Drummond went on to write that some councillors on the authority tried to pretend that it was not political, but that at the last election every single councillor had stood for a political party.

Cllr Andy Drummond, centre, pictured with Cllr James Lay. Picture by Mark Westley.
Cllr Andy Drummond, centre, pictured with Cllr James Lay. Picture by Mark Westley.

But his Conservative colleague, deputy mayor Cllr Tom Kerby, attacked Cllr Drummond for trying ‘to create political discord between council members’.

“If Cllr Dummond wishes to continue with his political division, I am not sure it’s best served on the town council,” he wrote.

West Suffolk Council standards committee member Cllr Roger Dicker made veiled references to Newmarket Town Council and said he was ‘absolutely fed up with seeing’ reports of internal battles at the authority.

Roger Dicker with his wife Dawn, who both serve as councillors at West Suffolk. Picture by Mark Westley.
Roger Dicker with his wife Dawn, who both serve as councillors at West Suffolk. Picture by Mark Westley.

“I am very disappointed it just constantly goes on. It’s just power. That’s what it is. Generally parish councils don’t have political parties. The towns seem to and there we have the issues,” he said.

“I am so disappointed with what is constantly in the Journal, constantly in social media. We seem to be not be able to control it at all.”

Ms Mickleborough added that councillors were ‘all adults and could talk to each other’. “The first recourse when you are having a problem with a fellow councillor is to talk to them about it. It’s not to go blasting on social media, it’s not to write a letter to your local newspaper. That’s just not helpful,” she added.

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