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Portland mayor making postponed amid chaotic scenes
Portland’s mayor making was cancelled amid chaotic scenes last night.
Residents gathered at the annual ceremony to protest at the election of Tim Munro to the role.
They paraded banners saying ‘No to Munro’ outside the council offices in Fortuneswell.
But proceedings were postponed by town mayor Les Ames due to a ‘serious difference of opinion’ regarding the nomination.
Les Ames told the council: “I am going to defer this meeting due to the serious difference of opinion.
“I cannot act on the different information I have received. I feel like I have to defer it.”
Mr Ames refused to elaborate on who or what the 'difference of opinion' related to.
He said he was waiting on ‘firm advice’ on the issue from a monitoring officer and the meeting would now take place next Wednesday.
Speaking to the Echo town Clerk Ian Looker said: “It was a very controversial affair that rose from the precept issue and there are some strong feelings about Tim Munro.
“In the last few days we became aware that some councillors might be putting forward an alternative nomination.”
He added that it was Mr Ames's decision to defer the meeting.
Mr Munro said that he thought the decision to defer was 'sensible' one made by Mr Ames.
Residents Sue Lees, June Morley, Gail Pickering and Dave Sanderson, of the Voice of Portland group, stood outside the council offices in Fortuneswell with protest signs.
Mr Sanderson said: “It started with the precept issue and since then we think the running of Portland town council has been undemocratic and not representative of the people.”
Ms Lees added: “We don’t think Tim Munro is right to represent Portland.
“He is very disliked and we don’t want him as our mayor. Les Ames has been a very respected mayor and councillor on the island since 1979 and it is not right that Tim Munro should follow on after him.”
Last month Mr Munro narrowly avoided an attempt to remove him as the nominee for Portland Town Mayor.
A motion was put forward at a Portland Town Council meeting to ‘review the decision’ to nominate Cllr Tim Munro for mayor in 2014/15.
It was backed by councillors Sandra Reynolds, Ray Nowak, Andy Matthews and outgoing mayor Les Ames, who decided to act following a ‘public outcry’ about the single nomination.
It read: “In the light of the council decision to nominate Cllr Tim Munro to be mayor in 2014/15 and the following public outcry we wish to review this decision and thereby move that the decision be rescinded under Standing Order 36.”
Six councillors, including Richard Denton-White, Elspie Munro-Price, Ian Munro-Price, Amanda Munro, Rodney Wild and Tim Munro himself voted against the motion.
The five remaining present members – including Les Ames, Ray Nowak, Sylvia Bradley, Sandra Reynolds, Andy Matthews, voted to pass it.
The five-six vote meant the motion was not passed and Cllr Munro remained as the nominated town mayor.
At a previous town council meeting, Cllr Tim Munro was nominated with no contest for the role, with Rob Hughes becoming the official nominee for deputy over Richard Denton-White.
Seven councillors voted for him to be nominated for mayor, three against and two abstained.
Residents voiced criticisms against Cllr Munro filling the role after he ‘led the way’ with the proposed 1000 per cent council tax precept increase. The increase was scrapped following a backlash.
At the recent council meeting, Cllr Reynolds told the council that Cllr Munro ‘was only nominated because there was no other alternative’.
Cllr Munro responded: “I was elected in the council chamber. It was a democratic decision.”
Existing policy guidelines state that the nomination for town mayor is carried out from a seniority list.
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