A councillor has declared his intention to resign following a controversial vote at Friday evening’s Annual Town Council Meeting.
Louth Town Councillor Neil Ward, who represents St Michael’s Ward, made the dramatic decision after the council decided to send no official representatives from the town council to the Louth Area Committee (LAC), which is run by ELDC and brings together councillors from town, district and county level on a quarterly basis.
While some councillors argue that the LAC is a waste of taxpayers’ money, others including Coun Neil Ward argue that it is “another voice” for the council to be heard.
There was further controversy as the vote was tied at 6-7 against leaving the LAC, until new Mayor Coun Andrew Leonard used his individual vote and his mayoral ‘casting vote’ to swing the vote 8-7 in favour of leaving.
Although this is in line with voting principle, Coun Gus Robertson argued that “the status quo” dictates that the Mayor should not use his casting vote, and instead should postpone the decision for a future meeting.
Following the final vote, Coun Robertson shouted: “What a lovely way to start your year as the mayor.”
After the meeting, Coun Ward said: “I regretfully resign, as I really feel strongly that this is a grave mistake. We have been robbed of another voice for the town council.”
Mayor Coun Andrew Leonard said: “I find it disappointing that Councillor Ward attempted to leverage the situation by threatening his resignation tonight.
“As councillors, we are all in it for the benefit of Louth.
“As Mayor, I cannot condone the Louth Area Committee expense. It serves no purpose, and yet the costs are met by the ratepayers.
“If a vote is tied, then it is within the rules of the council that the Mayor can have a casting vote, as well as their individual vote.
“Since I had proposed the motion, it was obvious which way I was going to vote. I felt it was appropriate to use my casting vote to save the ratepayers of the Louth area the further expense.
“As a councillor I am not interested in party politics, and as Mayor I am not prepared to be pressurised by members of political parties who choose to run their local politics in line with Westminster.
“Local politics appears to have become dominated by party politics, and therefore the best interest of the local community is not, in my opinion, always achieved.”