Russell B Hamilton claims “self-serving, ill directed and frankly appalling” behaviour of other members convinced him to go (From Ledbury Reporter)
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Russell B Hamilton claims “self-serving, ill directed and frankly appalling” behaviour of other members convinced him to go
THE councillor with the county’s future in his hands has called it quits - with immediate effect - claiming the “self-serving, ill directed and frankly appalling” behaviour of other members convinced him to go.
Councillor Russell B Hamilton resigns today as ward member for Pontrilas and cabinet member for environment, housing and planning, saying: “Those remaining should not have their reputations damaged by those that, in my view, are not fit to hold office,”
In an extensive resignation letter seen by the Hereford Times, Coun Hamilton singles out “the same small group of offenders” for everything from unsubstantiated allegations to “aggressive, rude and gutter level” remarks.
Those same members, said Coun Hamilton, have a reputation for treating council staff in a “disrespectful and bullying” way .
“I believe that in Herefordshire the group of councillors who are the subject of my concerns are unable to have an open and balanced discussion. Their starting point is always that you are wrong because you are part of the administration - in my view they are simply wreckers,” he said.
Other issues raised in the letter include the “lack of reality” amongst some councillors over the council’s financial position and the inability of the existing standards process to deal with improper behaviour by members.
“Councillors must set an example for their communities and for council staff alike. Sadly, however, the offenders continually try to appear as if they have the moral high ground and, in my opinion, consistently demonstrate a different set of standards, values, ethics and interpretation of what it means to maintain high standards and dignity towards others,” said Coun Hamilton.
“For me to continue in a system with some people who, in my opinion, are not worthy to hold public office and that does not have a standards regime that has the ability to deal with improper conduct is impossible,” he said.
In stepping down, Coun Hamilton hoped his decision would start debate on what it means to be an elected representative.
“It is clear to me that, for the most part, the majority of people understand the real issues and challenges, are frustrated by the time it takes to get things done and want the council to get on and address them,” he said.
Elected to the council just over two years ago, Coun Hamilton, in his cabinet role, had the primary responsibility for the council’s core strategy plan dictating development patterns - including house and road building - in the county up to 2031.
That plan pitches 16,500 new homes, a western bypass for Hereford, and around 148 hectares of land being opened up for business expansion.
Council leader Councillor Tony Johnson said he was “saddened” at Coun Hamilton’s decision.
“He is without doubt the hardest working councillor serving at present. I think it is unlikely that the people of Herefordshire will ever understand the difference he has made for them over the past few years.
“At a personal level he has been a great friend not just to me but to the officers with whom he has worked. His dedication and friendship will be missed,” said Coun Johnson.
Plans are already being drawn up for a by-election in Pontrilas with another by-election due in Tupsley after the recent resignation of Councillor Alex Hempton-Smith.
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