Action ‘is not fair play’ says councillor

Long Melford councillor Richard Kemp has hit out at the way a council appoints committee members, saying it is not fair play.

Mr Kemp, who has served on Babergh District Council for nearly 40 years, has criticised constitutional changes which do not allow non-party councillors – those not affiliated to a political party – to have a seat on a committee.

Recently, he gave up his own place on Babergh’s strategy committee to district councillor Clive Arthey – a non-party councillor who, until now, had been prevented from joining any committees because of the new rule.

Mr Kemp, who was re-elected with an overwhelming majority as a county councillor for Long Melford last week, claims the process is totally unfair.

He said: “Our national identity is fair play. As recorded in that great anthem Land of Hope and Glory, Britons shall not be slaves, but the members of Babergh, in excluding Clive Arthey from committees, have become slaves to this Mickey Mouse system of politics that exists within councils and local authorities.”

Mr Arthey, a councillor for 22 years, who lives in Lindsey near Hadleigh, said he had received a couple of offers of seats from other members and parties. “A lot of people have felt that this was quite an injustice,” he said.

A Babergh spokesman said: “Babergh has always been and will continue to strive to be a very inclusive council but, in these times of austerity and joint working, it must be in a position where it can provide a clear steer through the political groups and make well-informed timely decisions.

“Any political group can forgo its seats on any committee and allocate them both to another group or - as in the case of councillor Arthey - to an ungrouped councillor. He was given and accepted a seat on the strategy committee.”