Town council ‘being unreasonable’ says axed councillor

An elected member claims to have been kicked out of a town council – because he missed a meeting so he could visit his terminally ill brother in law.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 8th June 2015, 4:35 pm
Michael Hutchinson - kicked out of the council.
Michael Hutchinson - kicked out of the council.

Michael Hutchinson (Lab, Battyeford) was elected with 1,154 votes in last month’s Mirfield Town Council elections.

But Mayor of Mirfield Vivien Lees Hamilton confirmed today that, as Mr Hutchinson did not attend last month’s annual town council meeting, he could not be sworn in, and is no longer a councillor as a result.

But, at the time of the meeting, Mr Hutchinson was visiting his brother in law, who has an advanced stage of cancer, in Canada.

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“If I am no longer a councillor, it is because they are not letting me be one,” said Mr Hutchinson. “I was democratically elected by the people of Mirfield, but they have not respected that.

“I was not available to go to the annual meeting, not that I would have gone anyway because I had not received an official invite.”

As one of only two Labour councillors on Mirfield Town Council, Mr Hutchinson added that the majority Tory party were being especially unreasonable towards him.

“It is very difficult to see how this is anything other than politically motivated,” he said. “I very much doubt this would have happened to a Conservative councillor.”

He claimed that he was not sent agendas and dates for the two town council meetings since the election, including the annual meeting on May 19.

Coun Lees-Hamilton (con, Battyeford) denied the decision to axe Mr Hutchinson was politically motivated, and said she had contacted his fellow Labour town councillor Gary Bunton via Facebook, to pass on relevant information to him.

“If this was politically motivated, do you think I would have contacted coun Bunting?” she said. “I take no pleasure in doing things like this, but I have to make these decisions for the good of Mirfield.”

On who would fill the seat, coun Lees-Hamilton said the post would be advertised and did not rule out a bi-election. This is despite both councillors Steve Benson and Sean Guy, both Conservatives, being co-opted onto the council in the past year without a ballot being cast.

Mr Hutchinson still lays claim to his election, and said he would attend the next town council meeting to arrange a convenient time to be sworn in.

He added: “I think a town council works well when it is run by reasonable people. At the moment they are being unreasonable.”