A vote of no confidence in Oakham’s mayor proposed amid allegations of bringing the council into disrepute has failed.
Oakham town councillor Martin Brookes called for the vote at a special meeting on Wednesday. He made several accusations against mayor Alf Dewis, each of which he alleged “brought the council into disrepute”. But no-one seconded Coun Brookes’ proposal so the vote did not take place.
Among the accusations aimed at the mayor were that he was making decisions by himself without the authority of the full council; that he had wrongfully excluded Coun Brookes from a meeting on June 29; and that he had given incorrect reasons for a payment to solicitor Wilkin Chapman.
After the meeting Coun Dewis said he was pleased councillors supported him and had the confidence in him to refuse to second the motion. He added: “We have a tremendous amount of work to do so let’s get on and do it rather than carrying on like this.”
Coun Dewis and deputy chairman Coun Adam Lowe also responded to Coun Brookes’ allegations. They said some decisions had to be made quickly, taking into account the council’s responsibility to the community and its employees, and could not always wait for council meetings.
They said Coun Brookes was excluded from the June 29 meeting after a vote by councillors, as per standing orders, as he was being disruptive. Coun Brookes maintains that he was not being disruptive and has uploaded a video from the meeting on YouTube.
And they said the payment to Wilkin Chapman was for advice on conduct and disruption issues, which was initially agreed at a fixed fee. Couns Dewis and Lowe said: “Corrective action was required on the initial work from the firm which the council consider should be within the fixed fee quoted. Only when the invoice arrived was it apparent that a charge had been made.
“This was paid after some correction and authorised by the deputy chairman at the time (Coun Dewis) due to the long term absence of the clerk. The council is in discussion with the firm about this additional charge.”
Coun Brookes has also raised concerns that the council found errors in its end-of-year accounts, failing to submit them by the June 30 deadline and calling in an external accountant to check them.
Couns Dewis and Lowe said: “A firm of accountants has been commissioned to undertake to verify the accounts. Their report is expected before the end of July following which the accounts will be submitted.”
After the meeting Coun Brookes said: “The issue was not about my fellow councillors. As always I will attempt to work for the benefit of the tax payers of Oakham and hopefully achieve a council that is accountable, open and transparent and provides value for money for all Oakham residents.”