TOWN councillors representing the Andover Alliance have lodged a motion of no-confidence in the authority’s planning committee chairman — the same man who is the leader of their own party.

Councillor Richard Rowles took on the role of chairman at the Andover Town Council planning committee meeting on Tuesday, May 28.

But after just one meeting, fellow Andover Alliance member Cllr Christopher Ecclestone has put forward a motion for Monday’s committee meeting, proposing “that this committee has no confidence in the chairmanship of this committee by Cllr Richard Rowles”.

Fellow party member Cllr David Coole has seconded the motion, citing the events of the May 28 meeting as the basis for the no confidence motion.

He said: “The conduct of the initial planning committee and the subsequent reporting of it in the Andover Advertiser has necessitated the motion of no confidence, to enable the chair to justify his position and / or agree to stand down, to allow a councillor with significant planning experience to take over as chair of the planning committee.”

As reported in the Advertiser, the May planning committee meeting lasted almost two-and-a-half hours.

Some councillors appeared not to have read planning documents ahead of the meeting, while there was also uncertainty surrounding committee membership as two councillors sat in as “substitutes”, while Cllr Ecclestone, who tabled three motions, did not end up attending the meeting.

Cllr Rowles says he was not expecting to take on the role of committee chair, but had to step in following Cllr Ecclestone’s non-attendance.

Speaking of the no-confidence motion, Cllr Rowles said: “I have to say I am concerned yet not surprised at the actions of Cllr Ecclestone, this is not the first time he has called in to question the leadership of others whilst offering none himself.

“In particular, with regard to the chair of the planning committee he did put himself forward but then changed his mind and subsequently withdrew his candidacy for that position — a position to which I was then duly elected by the planning committee members.

“Whilst Cllr Ecclestone professes his ‘expertise’ in matters of planning, the reality is at the last meeting he put forward three motions which he didn’t even turn up to promote to his fellow councillor.

“In addition, the three motions were ‘non-functional’ as the town council is not empowered under the Town and Country Planning Order 2010 to do anything about them.

“However Mr Ecclestone is also a TVBC Cllr and in that capacity, he could go and talk directly to the Planning Department, or even convince his colleagues on TVBC Overview and Scrutiny to take up his cause.”

The planning committee meeting takes place at 6pm on Monday, at the town council offices, in 68B High Street.