Town leaders vow to rebuild bridges after coronavirus row and resignations

PUBLISHED: 08:05 17 June 2020 | UPDATED: 08:05 17 June 2020

Sheringham mayor Madeleine Ashcroft hosted the full council meeting on Tuesday, June 16.  Picture: Andreas Yiasimi

Sheringham mayor Madeleine Ashcroft hosted the full council meeting on Tuesday, June 16. Picture: Andreas Yiasimi


A Norfolk town council is keen to rebuild bridges after a row threatened to tear the community apart.

Sheringham Town Council held a meeting via Zoom video conferencing on Tuesday, June 16.

It was the first full council meeting since councillors Jon Payne and Neil Espin resigned, which town council chairman Madeleine Ashcroft said was “a sad loss in both cases”.

Mr Payne resigned 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 coronavirus pandemic. The row between the groups erupted when the founders of MASh claimed that the town’s deputy mayor Liz 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. Mr Espin did not wish to say why he resigned.

Peter Farley had put forward a motion of a vote of confidence in Mrs Ashcroft at the meeting, but withdrew it beforehand.

He said more informaion had since become available and added that the council should now show its commitment to residents and staff, resolve the disagreements, and let people in the town know they were all pulling in the same direction.

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Mr Farley said Mrs Ashcroft “had been an excellent mayor for two years”.

He added: “She has taken a great interest in all things Sheringham and has been an excellent ambassador for us.”

He said that, because of the coronavirus pandemic, they had been unable to hold an annual meeting, and select the mayor for the following year, and the government had said that mayors should serve another term.

He would have nominated Mrs Ashcroft for mayor if there had been a meeting, he said, and added he was confident she would have been elected again.

Members of the public and the press were excluded from the meeting for several of the items on the agenda, including discussions of the resignation letters, under section 3d of the council’s standing orders.

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