More members of Voice for Cheadle have stepped away from the group following a meeting about who was to be their town’s next civic leader. The recent resignations from Voice for Cheadle came after the recent meeting of Cheadle Town Council when it was voted that councillor Sue Walley would be the next Mayor of Cheadle.
More members of Voice for Cheadle have stepped away from the group following a meeting about who was to be their town’s next civic leader.
The recent resignations from Voice for Cheadle came after the recent meeting of Cheadle Town Council when it was voted that councillor Sue Walley would be the next Mayor of Cheadle.
The decision came after councillor Gary Bentley had served as Deputy Mayor for two years, a position which traditionally moves up to being Mayor of a town.
It is understood that the resignations from Voice for Cheadle have included: councillor Paulette Upton, councillor Greg Powell, and councillor Hugh Black – the latter who has also resigned from being a town councillor.
Cllr Bentley had also been a member of the Voice for Cheadle group up until December last year when he decided to become a ‘fully independent’ councillor. He said at that time: “I am hoping to be elected as Mayor in May, after being deputy mayor for two years. I have decided to step down from the Voice for Cheadle group so that, if I do become Mayor, it would be nice to be independent from any group and be able to concentrate on being Mayor of the town.”
Councillor Bentley told the Times & Echo this week: “I was disappointed not to be elected as the next Mayor of Cheadle.
“However I look forward to continuing to help Cheadle, where I can, as I have been; and look forward to hopefully being Mayor in the future.
“I have had some lovely comments from people across Cheadle.”
Fellow town councillor, Jamie Evans, who was also previously a member of Voice for Cheadle group before stepping down last June, said: “I just think it’s an absolute disgrace.
“Traditionally a deputy mayor does become mayor. I do believe that the group (Voice for Cheadle) decided not to make cllr Bentley the next mayor as he had stepped down from Voice for Cheadle.
“I also think it’s wrong that people were ringing around to get votes for the group’s choice.
“No disrespect to cllr Walley, but she has been Mayor twice before.
“When I initially joined Voice for Cheadle, they told us that everyone in the group would have a chance to get such positions. So not letting cllr Bentley have the position, appears to me, to be out of spite for him leaving the group.”
The Times & Echo contacted all three councillors who, we are led to believe, have resigned from the Voice for Cheadle group.
Cllr Paulette Upton said: “Having been a member of the Voice for Cheadle for Group for two years I now find that my values are not in line with those of the group.
“I was very disappointed that the group was unable to support our Deputy Mayor, Gary Bentley, in becoming Mayor of the town, particularly as he had previously been assured of their support.
“I strongly believe that those councillors who have proved their dedication to the town and who have a good track record of getting things done should have the recognition they deserve, irrespective of which ‘group’ they may be aligned with.
“I wish the group well and look forward to working with all councillors to the best of my ability in the year to come.”
Cllr Greg Powell told the Times & Echo: “To clarify, I am an independent councillor.
“In 2019 I stood, as what I understood to be one of a number of councillors under the banner of ‘Independent Voices for Cheadle,’ ‘without party affiliation.’
“Over recent months it’s become increasingly clear that I need to clarify that I am an independent councillor and not a member of a group namely the Independent Voice for Cheadle group and will continue to work with all councillors across the council.”
Meanwhile, Hugh Black, who has stepped down from being a town councillor, said that he did not wish to make any comment.
The remaining members of Voice for Cheadle, as confirmed by the group, are currently: cllr Ian Plant, cllr Dave Sargeant, cllr Ron Locker, cllr Ray Wood, cllr Nigel Wood, cllr Alan Thomas and cllr Sue Walley.
Response from Voice for Cheadle
The Times & Echo contacted Voice for Cheadle for a response to the resignations from the group.
The group’s press officer said: “Could I please firstly clarify, The Voice for Cheadle independent councillors were elected on a common mandate to work for the people of Cheadle in the best way they could. Unfortunately the Covid pandemic has restricted the regular activities of the council and as such the council in general has been unable to operate at full capacity.
“The 12 councillors elected under the banner of Voice for Cheadle are a likeminded group of independent councillors, they all stood on a common theme for the betterment of Cheadle.
“12 councillors constitutes a group, not a political party, that held regular meetings and discussions on how they saw the best way forward for the town.”
When contacting the Voice for Cheadle group, we said that it was understood that members of Voice for Cheadle were calling fellow councillors (prior to the meeting on Monday, May 17) to encourage them to who to vote for as the next mayor of Cheadle.
We asked: “How come this happened? In particular as, in his statement on behalf of Voice for Cheadle to the Cheadle & Tean Times after the 2019 elections, Voice for Cheadle member Dave Sargeant said that the Independent Voice for Cheadle is a group of “like-minded individuals who have got interests of Cheadle at heart rather than being political.”
He also said: “It is not a political party and we have agreed that there will be no party line to follow. All members of the group will be free to vote on matters how they feel fit for their wards in which they represent, and we know that there are going to be times when there will be different opinions from the different communities across the three wards of Cheadle.”
In response the Voice for Cheadle spokesman said yesterday: “The comments you attributed to councillor Sargeant are still the way in which the group operates, contra to the comments on different media platforms.
“The group saw one member leave who wanted to be totally independent of any decisions made by the group unless it was inline with his way of thinking, democracy working within a group didn’t work for him.
“A second left following a group meeting where he felt the group did not totally support a suggestion he made.
“The two councillors who left the group after the AGM gave their explanation following the election of the Mayor, as they were not happy with the “tactical voting,” named voting does not support that.
“The town council elect the mayor of the town to best represent the people, at this time when the whole of the country is trying to get back to normal and combining the very challenging project of revitalising the town under the stakeholder panel, we put forward an alternative candidate for mayor who we believed could best achieve this and unite the council.
“Yes as a group we spoke to individual councillors expressing our views and indicated we would be putting forward a nominee for Mayor.
“Eight of the ten Voice for Cheadle councillors voted for their nominee along with one other councillor, resulting in a tied vote, under those circumstances the Mayor has the casting vote, having voted for the group choice, he used his casting vote in the same way. That’s democracy.
“Mr Black to date has not left our group, he has resigned his seat from the council following some unsavoury comments made by certain councillors towards a member of the Voice for Cheadle group. His resignation is a loss to the group but much more important is the loss to the Stakeholder panel, as his voice was one of measured reasoning and his contribution would be invaluable. It is our hope that he can be persuaded to stay on the panel and continue to have a positive input to proceedings.
“The town needs to move forward. We have huge issues in front of us and we will need to all work together to achieve the best objectives for the town.
The council needs to find a way to get the full benefit of what is coming in the next year,
“All councillors will have a say in this and any substantial ideas should be supported by all, show the people of the town that the council can have a united approach to bringing the best possible option for the people, shops, businesses and community.
“The forthcoming co-option of councillors will see eight applicants for the four vacant seats.
“New members will hopefully bring balanced options and help to strengthen the resolve of the council. We would want to wish all candidates well at the June Full Council.”
The Times & Echo also asked Voice for Cheadle how many, if any, candidates they would be putting forward to fill the now four vacant seats on the Cheadle Town Council.
Their spokesman said: “The group is not putting forward any members for the vacancies on the council. We are supporting the independent applicants. To maintain the current balance in the chamber.”
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