Posted: 09.07.19 at 13:55 by Hannah Corfield
Two councillors have been co-opted onto Honiton Town Council at a meeting held yesterday evening (July 8), despite six people putting themselves forward.
Five candidates were in attendance and three of the candidates who presented at the meeting had their applications rejected; while it remains that four vacancies are currently unfilled.
The candidates present were: Carrie Holdsworth, Michelle Pollington, Lynsey Skinner, Carla Salisbury and Ray Hanratty.
This was the second time that those putting themselves forward had presented for co-option at a council meeting. They were asked to give a formal address to the council and the members of the public present, after which they were asked four questions by the Town Clerk.
After each candidate had been called in separately and given their individual responses, council members voted in private for who should be accepted.
Cllr Zarcynski addressed those in attendance prior to the results being revealed, stating that 'councillors should not be approached for questioning at this meeting and any queries to do with the voting must be emailed to individuals.'
Once this had been established, he revealed that Michelle Pollington and Ray Hanratty had been successful, however the other candidates had not.
Honiton Nub News spoke to Michelle Pollington, she said: "I felt so nervous in there, even though I'm used to teaching. The whole process was really bizarre - I feel bad for the other women who have had to go through this and be told 'no'."
People have taken to social media to express their opinion on the actions of the council.
John Burgess commented: "It is disgraceful that Honiton Town Council only voted in two of the six people who came forward for co-option onto the council. Why should 11 councillors who were not voted onto to the council (because there was no election) make the decision as to who should be on the council?"
Former Town Mayor, Henry Brown, wrote: "The behaviour and decorum of a lot of the members of that council contributed to me quitting. It's an absolute disgrace! This is nothing short of a blatant attempt for some to hold on to power. The council is not representative of this community and should be overlooked by our valued community groups."
A member of the public wrote this about prospective candidate, Carrie Holdsworth: "I’m really disappointed that Carrie wasn’t given the opportunity to sit on the council. She has lived in Honiton for 40 years and has a passion for her local community.
"What more do you need? The council need people like her coming through - she would be a great asset, bringing new ideas to the table in a fair, honest and open way. I hope she reapplies and is successful."
Deputy Mayor, Cllr Duncan Sheridan-Shaw, said: "Last night’s meeting saw an exciting onslaught of practical, viable & professional information.
"All the candidates gave an efficient address under what most would feel high scrutiny.
"When faced with a forum of elected officials and local dignitaries would I have given such a positive address - I'm not convinced.
"Democracy is a three-edge sword - your way, their way and the right way - we are locked and defended by democracy and as it stands it’s our resounding responsibility.
"I am thrilled to give my public welcome and congratulations to Michelle and Ray, but I am equally as disappointed with the result that excludes the potential energy, foresight and exuberance that would have given the council of the Honiton community a fresh perspective.
"We still have vacancies, we still need applicants and we will always need a council long after my term and the current terms of office have passed into the minutes!"
Honiton Nub News has contacted the Town Clerk for comment, who has said that an official press release will be made available later this afternoon.
More on this to follow.