'Petty, narrow-minded' Tory snubbed for civic honour

HISTORY was made last week when Weston Town Council failed to select the town's next deputy mayor. It is the first time since its formation

HISTORY was made last week when Weston Town Council failed to select the town's next deputy mayor. It is the first time since its formation in 2000 that the council has not been able to fill the coveted position. At a meeting on Tuesday (March 13), Labour councillor Derek Kraft was unanimously voted in to be Weston's mayor if he retains his seat after the local elections on May 3.Keith Morris then proposed John Ley-Morgan as deputy mayor saying: "John has been a member of Weston Town Council for seven years."He is one of the most regular attendees of meetings and has supported the council in all of its work. He is an excellent speaker, well respected and well worthy of our support."But the Conservative group's recommendation sparked a scathing attack from Liberal Democrat councillor Mike Bell. He said: "I am something of a pariah in my party and I quite like John and find him intelligent and occasionally humorous."Unfortunately, the tribute ends there and I know it is unusual but I have to speak against him becoming our deputy mayor."My reasons are quite straightforward. Throughout the life of this town council he has opposed all of the best initiatives we have taken forward. When he has not upset the process he has created difficulties and tensions where previously there were none."The debate on Barcode, with him being the leading critic, is another example of that."I firmly believe you should judge people by things they have done, not what they say and that is exactly what I will do."There has been no support when it comes to projects including Flower Power, Christmas lights, a grant for Uphill Village Society, which is in his own ward, and Barcode. He has been petty, narrow-minded and difficult, never supporting the public."In a meeting the other day he seemed to totally disregard the letters from people in support of Barcode and was not interested in what they had to say."Being Weston's mayor is not a feather in the cap or a reward for the lifetime membership of the Conservative club. It is an honour and we have had many good mayors who have raised the profile of the town council and flown the flag for Weston. "I do not believe John Ley-Morgan is of that calibre." Seven members voted in favour of John Ley-Morgan being deputy mayor and eight against. Liberal Democrat chairman Mark Canniford proposed Conservative councillor Andrew Horler as deputy mayor.Cllr Horler then looked toward his group leader, Keith Morris, for guidance but was told 'no'.He said: "One day I would very much like to be mayor and would regard it as a great honour, but my party has chosen and I must support it."The decision over who should become deputy mayor will now be taken after the May elections. After the meeting, Cllr Mark Canniford said: "Andrew Horler was nominated by the Lib Dems, a different political party, which is always an honour. I'm very disappointed that the Conservative group leader Keith Morris forbade him from accepting the nomination. I do not believe this is in the spirit of democracy."He is a well known businessman, a trustworthy and good individual who would have made a good mayor and his party clearly don't agree."Conservative association chairman, Pauline Priestman, said on Wednesday: "The group had made its decision about which candidate to put forward and you just don't go back on that."The Mercury attempted to contact Cllr Ley-Morgan but he was unavailable for comment.

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