Two Horncastle town councillors resign accusing authority of being 'less than effective' and 'self-serving'

Two members of Horncastle Town Council have resigned with immediate effect, and have taken a parting swipe at their former colleagues.

Stanhope Hall.
Stanhope Hall.

Councillors Richard Barker and Al Lockwood handed in letters of resignation, seen by the Horncastle News, to the town council on Wednesday.

They have both called for change in next year’s council elections so the “dead wood and ineffective individuals... melt away”, while also describing the council’s voting system as “incestuous” in continuing to vote for the “same old” individuals into chairmanships.

Sign up to our daily LincolnshireWorld Today newsletter

In his letter to the town council, Mr Barker said: “This is a council, that is less than effective,” accusing some members of stunting progress and vision.

Mr Barker had been put forward for chairman by Mr Lockwood during last week’s full council meeting as then-chairman Fiona Martin was stepping down. However, he lost out to new chairman Coun Brian Burbidge, four votes to five.

Mr Barker was also nominated for vice-chairman, and was tied on five votes each with Coun Matt Wilkinson, but Coun Burbidge broke the deadlock by exercising his chairman’s deciding vote in favour of Coun Wilkinson.

Appointing the same individuals to lead the town, “is short sighted and a disservice to the town,” Mr Barker continued in his letter.

He claimed: "This council still lives in the past, and has for many years been perceived by the residents with business and professional backgrounds, to be non-effective and just a talking shop, lacks visible presence, leadership and drive.”

Mr Barker also criticised the council’s delay in closing St Lawrence Street, described the new cemetery as “not fit for purpose”, and that the failure of the Recreation Project to attract funding “shows how inept the decision was, not to make the project community-led.”

Mr Lockwood’s letter was similarly scathing, describing the council as being, in his view, “in terminal decline” with “few members with anything to offer”.

He described the voting system as “incestuous” in continuing to vote for the “same old” individuals into chairmanships, stifling change and stimulation. He alleged the organisation lacked business acumen.

Both former councillors also called for the ending of “double dipping” - meaning the practice of councillors sitting on both town and district councillors - and said that there are “direct conflicts of interest which are ignored by this council”, even though individuals sitting on more than one tier of local government is an accepted practice up and down the country.

A spokesman for Horncastle Town Council said: “The council is surprised to have received the resignations of two Town Councillors.

"The Town Council is keen to fill these vacancies as soon as possible, and anyone who is interested should contact the Town Clerk for details of what’s involved in being a town councillor, and how to apply.

"It is ordinary elections in May 2023 so the new councillors will only be in post until then when all members of the Town Council have to stand down and put themselves forward again for re-election (if they wish).

"So this may be an ideal opportunity for someone who has thought about becoming a Town Councillor, but isn’t quite sure, to give it a go.”

To enquire about standing on Horncastle Town Council, call 01507 522957 or email [email protected]