Westgate town councillor quits role

Former councillor Robert Micallef has quit his role

Another Westgate town councillor has handed in their resignation.

Robert Micallef handed his resignation in on Monday (July 15) citing a list of concerns including the number of hours being worked by the town clerk, negative comments by councillors, drinking of alcohol before meetings, lack of communication, too few councillors taking on workloads and forming ‘cliques.’

In his letter Mr Micallef says: “It is with great sadness that I feel no option other than to resign for the Westgate-on-Sea Town Council.”

He adds that he has “a commitment to on-going internal investigation which is in process, if I leave during this it will break the momentum meaning it will have to be started from scratch or scrapped,” and suggested staying until the end of August but this has been rejected and he left with immediate effect.

The investigation is understood to relate to a dispute with the landlord of the council’s former premises. Questions have also been raised over the cost of the moving process which has been alleged to run to several thousand pounds. Former council landlord Tony Deeprose says costs were incurred during the surrender of the lease and associated legal fees.

Westgate Town Council says the move did not result in any additional costs to residents. It is understood further issues involve a health and safety notice at the former premises. The town council moved from Ethelbert Square to St Mildreds Road on July 1.

In a statement about the premises move the town council says: ” The move is cost neutral over the next two years and has enabled the Town Council to offer a community space which is available to local groups to meet up, an opportunity to promote local artists and the potential to undertake further income streams all designed to reduce the pressure on the precept for the residents.

“The Town Council had to pay a negotiated amount (equivalent to six months rent plus legal costs) to the former landlord to terminate that rental agreement, but not only will the total rent paid over the next two years be no more than it would have been but also the new premises are almost twice the size and offer space for meetings of groups which support those such as the deaf and those with little social contact.

“They are also the venue for exhibitions by local artists which help to raise funds for the council. Furthermore, the council no longer needs to rent a hall for the Full Council meetings once a month.”

In his resignation letter Mr Micallef said: “We have a dysfunctional council that has replaced the last dysfunctional council and I cannot see any value being on something that does not want to achieve anything or hold itself to a high standard and as such have come to this decision.

“I would like to end by saying I have great respect and admiration for both the Town Clerk and Jasmine Howarth, who work day in and day out under tremendous pressure with no or little support from the councillors. Without these two individuals I would not have lasted as long as I have as a councillor.”

The town council was hit by two resignations in 2017 when Graham Rickett and then David Morrish quit their roles.

Westgate Town Council says while Cllr Micallef’s resignation has been received it is still in negotiation.