A weekly newspaper editor has resigned from a charitable body set up to support local people in need in the wake of a political row.
However he has now confirmed that he has withdrawn from the body after the council’s prospective next chairman was deselected by Tory council colleagues.
Coun Christian Mitchell, who had been due to become chairman of the authority in the spring, was axed by his own group after speaking out against a housing development on his local patch.
The Trust was set up by the current council chairman Philip Circus to raise money to support those people in need in the district and has been strongly backed by the County Times.
Said Gary: “I congratulate Mr Circus and his wife Gaenor on forming the Trust and on the huge amount of work they have personally put into making its very worthwhile aims a reality. It has been a pleasure to support them.
“But the role of chairman has always been a politically neutral one and it was on this basis that I agreed to become a trustee.
“For the Conservative Party to use a three line whip to deselect the chairman elect Christian Mitchell seemingly to punish him for speaking out on behalf of his constituents is contrary to the County Times’ ethos of maintaining its own politically neutral position and of defending freedom of expression.”
The row follows a meeting last week when the Tory group – under instruction of a three line whip – broke with tradition and said Coun Mitchell, the current vice-chairman, would not take over as chairman in May.
Mr Mitchell said it was the price that he had to pay for articulating local residents’ concerns over plans to build thousands of homes to the north of the town.