TWO FORMER Whitchurch mayors have called for unity among town councillors and staff, following a series of public and private disagreements.

In recent weeks the town council has been involved in various incidents and arguments, including the clerk being fined for deleting a recording of minutes, a disagreement with a community group over the ordering of personal protective equipment and confusion over whether councillors had been eligible to be members or not.

Mike McDonald was mayor of Whitchurch between 2015 and 2017 and in his time had various issues to contend with himself, including a ‘fractious’ clerk.

He says that transparency is key for a local council, and recent falling outs have led to this transparency being eroded.

“Good governance practices are essential for openness and transparency within local government,” he said.

“It saddens me that Whitchurch Town Council once again seem to have fallen foul of this on a number of occasions recently – especially as there was a full review of policies and procedures a few years ago. This has resulted in an apparent lack of trust and credibility.

“Of course, this is not a healthy position to be in and I would encourage anyone who is keen to drive positive change to consider putting themselves forward to serve the town at the next elections, so that we may re-introduce vigour into our civic leadership and develop our town for the benefit of all of us. It can be a very rewarding role and I, for one, am proud to have previously played my part.

“Being part of our future strategy is an honour – but it is also important to remember that it’s not about one individual, it’s about everyone working together for the good of our community.”

Meanwhile, Rob Hewson, who was mayor between 2013 and 2015, says he is embarrassed by the current state of the council.

“They need to be unified, there should be no sides,” said Rob. “They should be there to represent the people of Whitchurch.

“We decided when I was there that it was an open council, but it’s not. There are certain councillors that make decisions, the code of conduct isn’t followed.

“People say we always had trouble with clerks, but at least we would had the balls to sort it out.” They’re all there to represent the people of our great town.”

“I’m really embarrassed by this council and I’m sorry for the people of Whitchurch who have to put up with it.”

A spokesman for the town council said: "The council welcomes Mr McDonald's comments and very much agrees on the need to work together closely and collegiately.

"Councillors should not post their own personal comments about a Council's business on social media.

"Doing so is a clear breach of the Council's communications protocol and this is made clear to councillors.

"It is vital that we all work together in a positive and productive way to support the town's health and help lead business recovery.

"COVID-19 has presented unprecedented challenges and communication is one of these.

"We do, though, aim to restore town meetings, to re-open the Civic Centre and be back out and about in public spaces to hear views from everyone in the town as soon as we can safely do so.

"This is a vital part of local democracy and we are always happy to answer any questions and we welcome challenge and new ideas.

"You can also get in touch with us at present on 01948 665761 or by email"