Georgina Hill calls on all councillors to resign

Berwick Town Hall

Berwick Town Hall

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Georgina Hill’s call for all 16 members of Berwick Town Council to resign and put themselves up for re-election has fuelled a heated debate.

The former deputy mayor, who is the subject of another internal code of conduct complaint, believes the town council has lost “public confidence and functionality”.

Georgina Hill

Georgina Hill

She believes the only way for the crisis to be resolved is for all 16 town councillors, herself included, to resign.

Her view is supported from afar by the former mayor and leader of the old Berwick Borough Council, Anthony Hughes, who wrote to the Berwick Advertiser from his home in Spain this week to comment on the ongoing row.

However, fellow town councillor Alan Turnbull has dismissed the attempt to bring about a new election, pointing out that not enough volunteers came forward to stand for election when the last town council election was held in May last year.

In one of a series of posts made on her open Facebook page over the past week and a half, Ms Hill wrote: “The crisis is at such a level that the only way to restore functionality and public confidence in the council is for ALL councillors to put themselves up for re election.”

Asked by the Berwick Advertiser to clarify her comments, she stated: “The only solution, which can come from the council itself... is for all councillors to put themselves up for re election.

“We require intervention from county or even central government. The council has shown itself over the last eight months completely incapable of sorting out its problems.”

In a letter to the Advertiser, Mr Hughes described the town council as a “shambles” and wrote that it “should be disbanded to start afresh.”

He added: “It would appear that the present Berwick Town Council is no longer fit for purpose.”

Although there is some support for a new election, it is not supported by Mr Turnbull.

One of the few councillors willing to voice his own opinion, the Magdalene ward representative has drawn attention to the low turnout and number of candidates who stood at last year’s local election. Ten of the 16 members were returned unopposed in May 2013.

He believes more time should be spent on issues that matter for people in the town.

“My personal view is that it would be a waste of taxpayers’ money. People had an opportunity to vote and the attendance figures were very poor.

“I want to focus on getting play park equipment in and getting our problems fixed, not bickering.

“There is a small minority making a lot of noise. If they want to become councillors because they think they can do a better job they should carry on campaigning now until the next election and see if they’ve got the interest then to stand as a town councillor.”

Asked to explain the procedure following a resignation, Berwick Town Council replied: “If a councillor resigns... a vacancy is created which is known as a casual vacancy.

“This is advertised, and if 10 electors request it, a by-election is held. If there is only one candidate, they are elected unopposed. If there are no candidates, the council can proceed to co-opt.”

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