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Letter set to re-open debate

Malvern Editorial 22nd Apr, 2014 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

MALVERN Town Council is set to reignite the district council allowances controversy by writing a letter on behalf of residents to express ‘disgust’ over the matter.

The district council’s decision to accept higher annual sums paid for several leading roles, sparked outrage last month with many people writing letters to the Observer in dismay.

Town councillor Martin Lawrence subsequently launched a public petition aiming for 750 signatures which would force the authority to re-debate the matter.

But last Tuesday (April 8), in a move which split the council chamber, his fellow members voted in favour of writing a letter on behalf of residents at the ‘avarice’ displayed by Malvern Hills District Council.

Although most agreed with the spirit of the move, many feared the town council should not be entering into a dispute with its district counterpart.

Coun Peter Smith said: “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but I really don’t think we should be launching an attack on the district council. Each one of us can do that ourselves. As a body we should not be drawn into conflict and we should put our own house in order.”

Coun Hannah Campbell also said she was concerned over the town council writing in opposition to a decision which was made democratically by the district council, based on recommendations from an independent body.

As a Tory district councillor for the Priory ward, she admitted voting in favour of the new allowances arguing with the district elections approaching next year, they would encourage more working age residents similar to herself to pursue a career in local politics.

Coun Mike Charles voted for the letter arguing the district council had constantly ‘ignored’ the town council in the past.

“We have had very little help from them whatsoever. The general public think this stinks. The council could have turned this (the recommendations for revised allowances) down but they wanted a few more pence in their pockets.”

Coun Iain Dawson, who tabled the move, said: “It is not my intention to damage the relationship with MHDC. It is about standing up for the many people who have said it is outrageous the council is doing this. I think this needs to be said on their behalf and we are really the only ones who have the ability to say it.”

Eight councillors voted in favour of the letter, four voted against and five abstained.

A spokesman from Malvern Hills District Council said the authority did not wish to make any further comment on the matter.

Coun Martin Lawrence urged residents to email him at martinlawrence4chase@gmail.com to sign up for his petition.

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