MINEHEAD Town Council has been shocked by the sudden resignation of mayor Sandra Slade.

Mrs Slade had been mayor since May 2019, but tendered her resignation this week saying she ‘no longer had the support and trust of a number of councillors’, and therefore ‘could not see any alternative’.

The Gazette understands that a key issue involved the handling of the suspension of the town clerk Jenny Bashford, and Mrs Slade being in isolation due to her age and underlying health problems.

Following her resignation, Mrs Slade said: “It was a real privilege to be elected to serve as a councillor and, even more so, to be elected mayor 2019/20. 

“I have so much enjoyed representing our town and meeting people from all parts of the community and from the wider area of Somerset. 

“I would particularly like to thank all the members of the council staff - it has been a real pleasure to work with them.

“However, during the months since Christmas it has become increasingly clear to me that I do not have the support of some councillors. 

“This, together with the current coronavirus situation has meant that, because of age and underlying health problems which have necessitated my self isolating, I no longer felt that it was tenable for me to continue serving the town and its residents as either mayor or a councillor.”

Deputy mayor Cllr Paul Bolton will serve as the mayor until a new mayor is elected in due course.

Somerset County Gazette:

A spokesman for Minehead Town Council said the town clerk Jenny Bashford had been suspended since September.

It is anticipated that a report on the matter will be discussed at the next town council meeting as a confidential item.

The Minehead Town Council spokesman said: “We are in the process of arranging a virtual committee meeting to be held online at the end of April or in early May.”

The spokesman added that organising either a by-election or co-opting a new member was also being delayed due to the coronavirus, as the process could not be formally started until the mayor’s resignation had officially been accepted at the next town council meeting.

It continues what has already been a turbulent few years for the council, with a dispute in 2018 revolving around a settlement payment to a former employee which was not brought before full council, a number of meetings postponed due to a lack of a responsible financial officer and the former Conservative-led town council replaced with independent councillors in May 2019.