Mayor resigns from Tory group after town hall spat
THE Mayor of Huntingdon has resigned from the Conservative group on the town council after becoming embroiled in a dispute over the town clerk. Councillor Jeff Dutton, who is also a member of Huntingdonshire District Council and Cambridgeshire County Coun
THE Mayor of Huntingdon has resigned from the Conservative group on the town council after becoming embroiled in a dispute over the town clerk.
Councillor Jeff Dutton, who is also a member of Huntingdonshire District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council, has refused to comment on his sudden resignation.
However, The Hunts Post believes the decision revolves around Cllr Dutton's "unilateral decision" to suspend town clerk Mike Kennedy, a paid employee of the council.
Cllr Dutton, who will continue as Mayor and as an Independent member of Huntingdon Town Council, has no conceivable authority to suspend the clerk.
One former Conservative colleague said the move was "completely illegal and we can't have that".
However, Cllr Dutton will retain the Tory whip at both district and county level. HDC leader Cllr Ian Bates and CCC leader Cllr Keith Walters said they were both unaware of the town hall spat.
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"If there were a complaint to the Standards Board for England (the official watchdog for complaints against elected councillors), we would quickly develop an interest," Cllr Walters said. "If the Conservative group on the town council tells me about the matter, I will decide whether I should put it to the party group on the county council," he told The Hunts Post.
Cllr Dutton is said to have taken a dim view of advice given to the council by Mr Kennedy, who has also refused to comment, and over-reacted, according to sources within the Conservative Party.
Quite how this latest move will affect the town council remains to be seen. The full council is due for re-election in May, and very few of the existing members, including Cllr Dutton and his wife Claire, are expected to seek re-election.
The office of mayor is not a party political appointment, so Cllr Dutton could continue in office until the end of his (second) term. Equally, the council could force him out through a motion of no confidence, leaving last year's mayor and now deputy mayor, Cllr Helen Mallett, to see out the last three months of his tenure.