‘It’s been really nasty’ - councillor resigns following aid argument

Jon Payne has resigned from Sheringham Town Council. Picture: Jon Payne

Jon Payne has resigned from Sheringham Town Council. Picture: Jon Payne - Credit: Archant

A town councillor has claimed a ‘nasty’ row between two coronavirus aid groups has caused him to resign - and has forced his council to start holding meetings behind closed doors.

Jon Payne, 45, who has been on Sheringham Town Council since last summer, resigned on Thursday following a disagreement between Sheringham Community Support (SCS) and Mutual Aid Sheringham (MASh), which was set up by members of the community to help those in need during the pandemic.

Mr Payne said the row had also made the council wary of holding public meetings - and that it was ‘hushing up’ certain issues.

“The recent disagreement has been really nasty, with both sides making accusations against each other, but it has also highlighted a number of problems in the way that the council operates,” he said.

“The one thing which prompted my resignation the most was the lack of support for mayor Madeline Ashcroft and the fact that now most of our meetings are being held behind closed doors and that’s not because of commercial or legal sensitivity, it’s actually the council hushing up things that they don’t want people to know about.

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“It’s just so difficult to get anything done in the council because they’re just so wrapped up in their own problems.”

In his letter, Mr Payne said the council’s ownership of Morley Hill and asset management was another factor in his opting to resign.

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He said his resignation was not as a result of the actions of any single person.

MORE: Questions raised after row between rival lockdown volunteer groups

A Sheringham Town Council spokesman said: “Sheringham Town Council thanks former councillor Payne for his contributions during his time in office. There will be an opportunity for members to discuss the contents of former councillor Payne’s resignation letter at a future Full Council meeting.

“Sheringham Town Council remains dedicated to supporting its residents and traders during these uncertain times and beyond.”

Ms Withington said she wanted her response to be communicated through the council.

The row between the groups erupted when the founders of MASh claimed that Ms Withington replaced a volunteer without informing her.

However, SCS said the issue had been a misunderstanding and that the person in question remained a volunteer.

Caz Cunningham-Brown who runs the MASh group, said: “Jon has always been a very kind and gracious supporter of MASh and he’s really involved in our community so we were quite surprised to hear that he felt so strongly about the way that the council behaved that he would resign.”

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