Labour’s dismay as mayor retains role
THERE has been a mixed reaction to the mayor’s survival of a vote of no confidence at a special council meeting on Thursday evening.
A motion was put forward by the Labour Group calling for Coun Nick Martin (Con, Shaw) to stand down as mayor after accusations that he made insulting remarks about people with learning difficulties.
At a closed meeting in October he is alleged to have said: “They aren’t still letting those mongols have sex with each other are they?” However, the mayor survived after an amendment to the motion by the Conservatives said that to vote him out would be to effectively find him guilty before anything had been proven.
He is due to face a standards hearing next year.
The initial motion was tabled by Labour Group Leader Coun Jim Grant (Lab, Rodbourne Cheney) who argued that the standards committee will investigate Coun Martin’s role as a councillor and not as a mayor.
He argued that because of this and the damage of the allegations, Coun Martin should be removed to preserve the integrity of the title.
After the meeting, Coun Grant expressed his dismay at the outcome of the meeting which passed the amendment at 27 votes to 25.
He said: “I am obviously very disappointed with the result and that the mayor is still in place.
“This was an issue of morality and honour and we did not see that today. “What it is worth noting is that the mayor received support from less than 50 per cent of the councillors.
“If the Conservatives believed in the mayor why did they not vote against the motion and instead table the amendment?
“We now have this mayor for three months until the standards hearing takes place.”
Coun Grant said during the meeting that he would accept the mayor being suspended until the hearing, with a temporary Conservative mayor taking over the role, but this was dismissed by Coun Martin.
He also said if any person holding the position of mayor feels the allegations are affecting the reputation of the office then it is for them to make a decision on whether or not to carry on.
“I wish, as I’m sure that every other councillor does, that we did not have to vote on this issue in the first place,” said Coun Renard.
“I think it was premature and the system run its course before taking such action. The decision on whether to stand down is down to the mayor. “Even if the vote had been lost then there is no obligation on him to stand down.
“The role of the mayor is to represent Swindon in the best possible way. If the situation prevents the beholdent from doing this then it is their decision whether or not to carry on.”
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