Councillor’s outburst as he threatens to quit

A Horncastle town councillor threatened to resign and claimed the public regarded his colleagues as ‘numpties’ during a heated debate last week.

Councillor Richard Barker threatened to quit the town council. The photo was taken before the lockdown.

Coun Richard Barker hit out after councillors rejected two motions he had seconded - the first regarding a council tax freeze, and the second being a call for a u-turn on a transfer of assets from East Lindsey District Council.

Councillors went on to agree donations of £500 to the town’s Brownies and Horncastle Chef - volunteers providing free packed lunches for school pupils during lockdown.

Coun Barker agreed with the donations but then said: “We are happy to bung a thousand quid straight across the table, yet we can’t agree to keep the precept at zero per cent.

“I just find it disgraceful and I am coming very close to resigning from this council because it isn’t worth being on it. We are looked on as being complete numpties half of the time.”

Mayor Fiona Martin did not respond to Coun Barker, who went on to take part in remaining agenda items.

Speaking after the meeting, Coun Barker said: “I did it for effect, but I do not intend to resign.

“Yes, I believe there are at least half the Town Council who are not fit to hold office as they lack competence and business acumen and do not understand the risks that they are supporting in the potential financial implications of the asset transfer and the lack of understanding of raising Council Tax by even 1%.”

The motion to rescind the asset transfer was proposed by Coun Alan Lockwood.

The town council recently agreed to take on 14 areas of land and buildings previously owned by ELDC following discussions lasting three years.

Coun Lockwood claimed new councillors had not been involved in the process and raised concerns about the financial and legal implications involved.

He added it was unacceptable that if any of the assets were sold, ELDC would receive the proceeds - not the town council.

He also claimed there were more profitable assets that could have been transferred.

Backed by councillors Barker, Terry McCarthy and Mark Everton, it was also questioned whether Mayor Coun Fiona Martin should have been involved in the negotiation process - because she is also a district councillor.

Coun Martin was one of several town councillors who spoke against the motion, stressing all the assets had been carefully considered.

Coun Matthew Wilkinson said he backed the transfer be as it meant important local assets - including sports grounds - were under the town’s control.

Coun Brian Burbidge said he had been involved in the negotiations and residents had told him they were ‘overwhelmingly’ in favour.

The motion was defeated 6-4.