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Max Sawyer's resignation statement in full

Stamford town mayor Max Sawyer Photo: Don Lambert (2247640)
Stamford town mayor Max Sawyer Photo: Don Lambert (2247640)

Stamford Mayor Max Sawyer walked out of a council meeting on Tuesday, July 24, saying he resigned from the position.

Although he confirmed to the Mercury on Thursday, July 26, that he had resigned, he initially said a statement on the matter would only be released next week.

However, a statement was sent out earlier today (Friday, July 27) in which he said:

This statement is purely personal and should not be taken to represent the views of any other individual or organisation.

It is NOT confidential and may be shared without restriction.

During my 7 years as an STC councillor, I have often been asked for my thoughts about how I found carrying out the role.

My reply was always the same - frustrating and interesting in equal measure.

Frustrating mainly because Stamford remains in thrall to both SKDC and LCC in far too many areas of responsibility which could and should be devolved to STC (with suitable financial and administrative arrangements) and their bureaucratic mills grind exceedingly slowly, and interesting because there was always so much to learn.

To give two examples of foot-dragging, it took over 2 years for SKDC to give permission for the benches and planters in Red Lion Sq. (paid for by the Skells Trust, not SKDC) - and this did not include various additional delays occasioned by SKDC's changing demands.

It took a minimum of 3 years for LCC to install the new lights in the Square despite their having been given STC's share (the majority) of the cost right at the beginning of the process), again with further consultation and planning delays.

Nor are STC's own procedures beyond criticism with regard to their efficiency (there is unfortunately a significant "this is how we have always done it" element, opposed to any reform).

One example - although committees are able to make decisions within their remits and budgets, these cannot be implemented without the further approval of a full council meeting, which may not be until a month later.

This means that, although elected by STC, committee chairmen have no effective authority/control.

Another frustration emerged last Tuesday - STC meetings have not been run in accordance with Standing Orders (approved by STC only last year) for some time, so I proposed a small tweak to the procedure to bring it into line. Councillors objected to this, despite my attempts to explain that no loss of democracy or the right to speak was involved.

Councillors voted against the proposal, and instead proposed that the standing order in question be referred to the Scrutiny and Audit committee for recommendations (ie only a few months after approving it, unanimously if I recall correctly, they now want to change it).

There are other matters and I could have endured them all, but for the constant negative and tediously repetitive carping and objections from the same small number of councillors in STC meetings, which I found increasingly stressful.

I realised it was leading to a recurrence of the symptoms of the clinical depression from which I have suffered for the past 20 years.

Having recently been able to discontinue my medication I did not wish to take the retrograde step of returning to it. Had there been only a month or so to go, I dare say I would have completed the year, but the thought of another nine ill-tempered meetings (one a month), plus the inevitable follow-ups, led me to put my mental health first.

Whether I walked out of Tuesday's meeting "in a fit of rage", as stated in the Mercury, or in a final fit of frustration, which is my belief, is for others to decide.

Incidentally, although I have no objection whatsoever to my walk-out being reported (STC meetings are, quite rightly, open to the public), I feel it regrettable that the informant lacked the integrity to supply their name.

On a more positive note, I have got on well with most of my fellow councillors (admittedly, not all) and I have only praise for the Town Hall staff, led by Patricia (the Town Clerk), all of whom I have found to be nothing other than supportive and helpful since I was first elected as a councillor in 2011.

However, as an easily replaceable unpaid volunteer rather than a paid employee, I see no point in continuing to perform a role where an important part of it had ceased to be enjoyable and was proving injurious to my health.

My resignation is tinged with regret of course, as I have learnt much about the operation of local government, planning, car parking, traffic, litter, Stamford's history and architecture, our Town's splendid and varied voluntary groups and so much more.

In addition, both my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the civic and social events we attended, meeting so many different people in and around the local area and promoting Stamford's many attractions whenever possible.

I have certainly not turned my back on our splendid Town and hope to be able to work in its interests in other areas in future.

Max Sawyer

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