COUNCILLOR Sally Holman was re-elected as Lyme Regis Town Mayor amid chaotic scenes at a full council meeting.
Following calls to resign from the public gallery, Cllr Holman won the election by eight votes to three – after one councillor walked out of the meeting and in-fighting between councillors over the meaning of democracy and councillors’ intentions.
An argument erupted after Cllr Michaela Ellis spoke to the council and alerted them to a resolution made by the council in 1979 regarding the position of town mayor.
Cllr Ellis said the resolution stated the position of mayor shall not be held by the same person for more than two consecutive years unless there were no other nominees.
Cllr Stan Williams supported Cllr Ellis, and said it had been a ‘long, long battle’ to get the resolution passed in the 1970s. He also said it was ‘greedy and selfish’ to hold onto the position of mayor.
There was then a verbal spat between Cllr Terry O’Grady and Cllr Stan Williams.
Cllr O’Grady said: “I smell a rat.”
When Cllr Williams tried to interrupt Cllr O’Grady said: “Be quiet, I’m talking. I do smell a rat and believe someone is trying to move the goalposts to suit themselves.”
Town clerk John Wright told the council he had ‘no idea’ about the resolution, but said Cllr Ellis was right that it was a policy. He added: “What this council can do is actually rescind this if it so wishes.”
Cllr George Symonds said it would not be democratic if the council didn’t follow the resolution.
He said: “I think what we need to look at here is actually what democracy is and what procedures are.
“If motions have been passed previously they should be followed, otherwise all the other things we discuss today could be obsolete. We need to stick purely to procedure so we are seen to be open and transparent.”
After a lengthy discussion over the meaning of democracy, in which Cllr Ellis produced a handwritten piece of paper with the wording of the resolution, councillors discussed rescinding the motion.
Cllr Symonds then walked out of the meeting and said: “I think it’s all about democracy and I don’t think we’re being democratic.
“By not following the rules we will leave this council open to challenge and I am now going to leave this meeting because I don’t think it’s appropriate and I don’t want to be involved in anything that is not democratic and open to challenge.”
After the resolution was rescinded, there were calls made from the public gallery for Cllr Holman to resign.