Mon, 18 Mar 2019
A CONSERVATIVE councillor has resigned from West Berkshire Council, less than two months before the upcoming local elections.
Jeremy Bartlett stood down as a councillor for Greenham ward on March 7, having attended just 16 of the 32 meetings he was expected to since he was elected in May 2015.
His resignation came only two days after he failed to attend a crucial meeting that saw councillors approve a council tax rise and funding cuts to public services.
The council’s Conservative leader Graham Jones (Con, Lambourn) said that Mr Bartlett had struggled to juggle his commitments.
However, the opposing Liberal Democrats claim that Mr Bartlett resigned before he could be disqualified for failing to attend a meeting in a six-month period.
The Newbury Weekly News attempted to contact Mr Bartlett for a comment, but he was unavailable.
Conservative Party agent during the 2015 elections Dominic Boeck (Con, Aldermaston) said that Mr Bartlett had resigned for personal reasons.
And Mr Jones said Mr Bartlett had resigned from the council owing to work and council pressures.
Mr Jones said: “He has stood down due to pressures of work.
“He struggled a little as he works overseas.
“In this particular occasion I know he has been struggling and trying to juggle councillor responsibilities with work commitments, and that’s definitely a challenge for people with jobs.
“At the end of the day he thought that was the best thing to do.”
Mr Bartlett’s resignation follows Conservative councillor for Thatcham West Nick Goodes being disqualified from the council after failing to attend a meeting for six consecutive months.
Mr Goodes also resigned from Thatcham Town Council owing to his work commitments.
His resignation triggered a by-election and the two vacant seats were won by Liberal Democrat candidates Jeff Brooks and David Lister.
Mr Jones said that it was unlikely that a by-election would be held to fill Mr Bartlett’s seat so close to the local elections on May 2.
The leader of the district council opposition Lee Dillon (Lib Dem, Thatcham North) said that Mr Bartlett would have been disqualified from the council if he had not resigned as his attendance record had been “terrible”.
“If he has resigned for personal reasons then I am sorry to hear that.
“We have got [Lib Dem Greenham ward member] Billy Drummond, who is running around trying to get members bids in for Greenham for play equipment and open space, and that money really matters, so to see a councillor claim their allowance [the basic allowance in West Berkshire is £7,546] but not attend meetings for six months is really galling.
“For the Tories, it shows that they just chucked names down.
“They are happy to be elected but not happy to serve.
“At the budget meeting, the council approved a £5,000 cut to the volunteer centre... if we didn’t pay Tory councillors to sit at home maybe we wouldn’t have to cut so many services.”