Bodmin town councillor resignations over land deal just 'a silly row'
TWO former mayors of Bodmin have resigned from the town council after a furious row over alleged breaches of local government rules.
Linda Spear and Michelle Griffiths claim proper procedures were not carried out when land in Dennison Road changed hands.
The council owned a small parcel of land which once housed a bus shelter, but which was required by the developer of a new pay-and-display car park.
An agreement was reached to exchange that land with another piece owned by West End Motors nearer to a bus lay-by.
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However, Mrs Spear and Mrs Griffiths say the deal should never have been struck because it went through without the full authority of the town council.
Mrs Spear demanded an investigation, but the council refused to carry one out.
After what the council described as "a robust exchange of views", both councillors handed in their resignations.
Mrs Spear, who served as a councillor for 22 years and was twice elected mayor, said: "Michelle and I believe the council has not adhered to local government rules regarding financial regulations, unauthorised activity within standing orders, the code of conduct and anti-fraud and corruption policy.
"The decision (to exchange the land) should not have been taken without the authority of full council, yet it has been minuted that one councillor was solely responsible for making the land transfer decision.
"I simply couldn't stay on the council because if I had, I would be part of a council which had allowed these serious breaches in policy and procedures to happen. Michelle, a councillor for 11 years, feels exactly the same.
"I was always proud to serve on Bodmin Town Council and serve the people of the town, and to leave is heart-wrenching, but neither of us could carry on."
The council said its newly-acquired pocket of land would better serve residents, as it could be used to erect a bus shelter next to the bus lay-by on Dennison Road.
Mayor Ken Stubbs said he was disappointed the two councillors had resigned.
"I'm sorry they've chosen to leave because Linda and Michelle have served this council well and have been a real asset to the town," he said, "but I'm also disappointed they've chosen to do so now as we could face a costly election in the coming months on top of next May's local council elections."
Town councillor Phil Kerridge described the affair as "a silly row".
"Michelle and Linda leaving the council ought to be a time for gratitude and celebration of their outstanding service," he said.
"Unfortunately, they're going after a silly row. You can barely swing a cat in these two bits of land and why this has provoked so much animosity I have no idea.
"I hope time will prove to be a healer so two significant players in Bodmin's recent history get the recognition they deserve."