Resignations put town council into political stalemate

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A POLITICAL stalemate has arisen on Bognor Regis Town Council.

The resignation of two Conservative members has wiped out the party’s majority on the council.

The separate resignations of the Conservatives’ group leader, Adam Cunard, and Sandra Daniells means the group has been left with an equal number of councillors to the Liberal Democrats.

Cllrs Cunard and Cllr Daniells, his mother, have become Independents. They are two of the four town councillors for Pevensey ward.

Their decision means the town council has become a hung balance with six Conservative, six Liberal Democrat, three Independent and one Labour member.

Cllr Cunard said: “It’s a real shame for the town council.

“My hope now is that we can all continue to work together for the town, and for the electorate we serve, without any personal animosity or bad feeling over the next two years.”

The resignations of Cllrs Cunard and Daniells follow their decisions last month to leave the Conservative group at Arun District Council.

At the time, Cllr Cunard said he believed he could serve Bognor better away from the group’s political influence.

He claimed his role as the Picturedrome operator had put him at odds with Arun’s Conservatives and their backing for a four- to five-screen cinema as a key part of the £40m St Modwen regeneration scheme.

But he hoped to stay as a Conservative on the town council in line with his political beliefs.

However, he says in his resignation letter on Monday (April 15) a private meeting was held between some of his fellow Conservatives which ended in a new leader being chosen.

There was some subsequent confusion about Cllr Cunard’s eviction from the position because of the distinction between the legal status of the council’s councillors being a group of Conservatives or a Conservative group. But Cllr Cunard said he decided to distance himself from the Conservative group.

“It had been clear for a long time that some of you were not behind me and had always made it difficult,” he alleged, “and I thank those who were not for their loyalty.”

The town mayor, Cllr Eileen Anderson, said: “The allegiances of Adam Cunard and Sandra Daniells had not been with us at all in the past year.”

Their decision to stand as Independents in next month’s county elections was the final act which prompted more senior Conservatives to ban them from taking part in its activities.

“It’s a pity that politics has to come into this,” she said. “The town council should be all about sorting the town out.”

Cllr David Edwards is the new Conservative leader on the town council. It was a hung council before the May 2011 elections produced the two-seat Conservative majority.