Friday, November 16, 2012
A long-serving Wells councillor and one of the town’s best- known characters has spoken this week of her anger at being ordered off the town council.
Joyce Trett has been disqualified for failing to attend meetings after several attempts to resign were not accepted.
Mrs Trett – who has been a member for 14 years – is bemused as to why the council would not accept her resignation and says she wants to put the record straight.
Council clerk Keith Leesmith said her resignation was not valid because it was not sent to council chairman Allen Frary and the council had no choice but to disqualify her.
Mrs Trett said she sent her resignation letter in an email to several councillors but later discovered it went to an incorrect email address for Mr Frary. She said this was one she had used for him in the past and she did not get a notification to say the email had not been sent and so assumed it had been received.
Mrs Trett was later disqualified from the council for failing to attend six meetings in succession. She said: “I have worked hard for Wells on the town council for 14 years and I do not want the people of the town to think that I was kicked off because I couldn’t be bothered to turn up to meetings. I have done nothing wrong, and my name is being dragged through the mud.
“The council is being so pedantic. I have seen people verbally resign from the council in the past.”
Mrs Trett, a former chairman of North Norfolk District Council, first attempted to resign in April.
She later heard, through word of mouth, that Mr Frary did not receive her letter.
Mrs Trett printed off a copy of the e-mail, put it into an envelope addressed to “the chairman” and asked another councillor to give this to Mr Frary at the May meeting. But Mr Frary was absent from this meeting.
In the July meeting councillors voted to begin the process of recruiting a new councillor to replace Mrs Trett. She has been replaced on the council by Tony Ford.
Mrs Trett said she attended the next town council meeting in September where she stood up and read her resignation letter, but it was still not accepted.
She attended the October meeting and spoke during the public forum to say she believed she had resigned properly and was disappointed the council had chosen to disqualify her.
Town councillor Ray Hewitt has attempted to have Mrs Trett’s disqualification rescinded.
At this month’s town council meeting the issue was discussed in private, but Mr Frary and Mr Leesmith left the room.
Mr Leesmith says that as the discussion was centred around whether he and Mr Frary had acted correctly it was not appropriate for them to be there.
Mr Hewitt, however, is disappointed that he, and other councillors, were not given the chance to question Mr Frary and Mr Leesmith over the issue.
It was resolved that the council had no case to answer.
Mr Hewitt said: “I am very disappointed at the way this situation has been handled. Joyce has been on the council for several years and has always fought for what she believed in, like any good councillor should.
“She has been an excellent councillor and for her council career to end this way because of a simple mistake over an e mail is not right.
“If Joyce had not followed procedure correctly then the clerk should have informed her directly and told her what she needed to do, but that did not happen.”
Mr Leesmith said: “Joyce was told by councillors that the chairman had not received her resignation letter. She has handed him her resignation in the last couple of weeks, but that was too late.
“As a town council we are not capable of disqualifying anybody. We are following the law and it is out of our hands.
“We have worked through the process with Joyce as we would with any other councillor.
“Becoming unqualified as a councillor does not prevent Joyce from becoming a councillor again. She can apply at any time to do this.”
Mrs Trett said: “During my 14 years on the town council I have really enjoyed helping to achieve things for the town, but I decided to resign because I had become uncomfortable with the way that some issues were being dealt with.
“To leave the council this way leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.”
Mrs Trett said she will continue to try to clear her name and is getting advice from North Norfolk District Council.
Mr Frary was unavailable for comment when The Times tried to contact him this week.