A FORMER mayor of Andover has taken a step back from the town council’s committee’s and panels, accusing some members of being “insanely undemocratic”.

Cllr Richard Rowles, who represents Winton on Andover Town Council and is also a Test Valley Borough councillor, will continue to sit on the full council, but last week resigned from all other committees.

In a letter to the town clerk, seen by the Advertiser, Cllr Rowles wrote: “To be perfectly honest, I think the way the Lib Dems are insanely undemocratic has had an effect on this decision. It's both ironic and shameful given their name, though not surprising given their unwanted animosity towards me.”

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While Andover Town Council has only four Liberal Democratic elected representatives, Cllr Rowles says that other independent councillors are also party members and this has an effect on their conduct. He specifically cited Cllr Barbara Long, current mayor and ATC chair, as an example of this.

He continued: “Never have I ever experienced a council chair stop a seconder of a motion from speaking. Appalling! It's almost as if councillors of their colour have made up their mind before the meeting.

“Whilst I could be petulant and churlish by threatening a judicial review I will not. I have too much respect for our town to bring it into yet more disrepute.

“I considered resigning completely, but that is exactly what the Lib Dems want. I will therefore deny them that obvious victory.”

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Responding to the news, Cllr Barbara Long said she was “disappointed”.

“I do not think other councillors are making it political at all. We have a couple of councillors who seem to be continually challenging everything being done by the town council and not allowing them to get on,” she said.

“I have tried to keep the council meetings to two hours. Before I took on chair, we had lots of extraordinary meetings and meetings that went on and on and I have managed to keep every meeting within the two hours. I took on the chair saying I wanted to stop all the arguments and fallouts and I think on the whole I have managed that. I have tried to get us back on track, and I have tried to be fair.”

Cllr Long continued: “Cllr Rowles’ view is as important as every other councillor’s view and I am disappointed that he has 1) not come to me about it and 2) been making it political.

“I believe everything to do with the town council should be dealt with at the town council. In the end, it’s the committees trying to get the work done and we can’t do that without people on committees.”

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