Anger as mayor makes early exit from fu­neral

COUN­CIL­LOR COM­PLAINS AF­TER CIVIC LEADER LEAVES BE­FORE SER­VICE FIN­ISHES

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page - by Thom Mor­ris tmor­ris@thek­m­group.co.uk

THE Mayor of Ash­ford has said he faces a pos­si­ble in­ves­ti­ga­tion af­ter leav­ing the fu­neral of an ex-coun­cil­lor early.

Cllr John Hol­land has been crit­i­cised for let­ting the town and its peo­ple down af­ter leav­ing be­fore the end of the ser­vice for for­mer coun­cil­lor Joseph Dean, 88, and then clink­ing change in the do­na­tions tray and rat­tling the door of St Mary’s Church in Brabourne.

The com­ments were made by the leader of the Ash­ford In­de­pen­dent group Peter Dav­i­son fol­low­ing the in­ci­dent last Fri­day.

Cllr Dav­i­son has now sent a let­ter of com­plaint to all bor­ough coun­cil­lors but ad­mit­ted he did not think it nec­es­sary for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Stan­dards Com­mit­tee.

He said: “This walk­ing out and great clat­ter­ing was a con­sid­er­able dis­tur­bance. Mem­bers of the con­gre­ga­tion were very an­gry in­deed.

“They had a go at me be­cause of the ap­palling be­hav­iour of the mayor who was wear­ing the chains of of­fice and rep­re­sent­ing the coun­cil and the peo­ple of Ash­ford.

“It is in­sult­ing to walk out dur­ing a fu­neral. You ei­ther go or you don’t. I have not sug­gested it should go to Stan­dards I merely ad­vised the coun­cil­lors that the mayor has in­sulted an im­por- tant mem­ber of the bor­ough and they should look out for some crit­i­cism.”

But Cllr Hol­land has de­fended his ac­tions say­ing he did not re­alise it would be a long ser­vice and that he had ex­pressed his dis­ap­point­ment at hav­ing to leave early to the fam­ily and to the priest.

He said: “I had a pri­vate en­gage­ment to at­tend at 3.45pm but when I got there I re­alised it was a full Ro­man Catholic re­quiem mass, and they do go on for a while.

“There was a priest near to me and I beck­oned him over and told him I had an ap­point­ment to at­tend. He said ‘don’t worry Mr Mayor’ and in­di­cated the most ap­pro­pri­ate time to make a dis­creet exit.”

Cllr Hol­land says he then told the fam­ily, who thanked him for at­tend­ing.

He added: “When I came in the door was open but when I left it was closed.

“It is one of those old fash­ioned solid oak doors where you have to turn the han­dle to get out and it was very hard. I did put all my change on the plate and it did make a noise. I then got out and it was rain­ing, end of story.”

He now plans to write a let­ter ex­plain­ing the sit­u­a­tion to the fam­ily.

What do you think? Email ken­tish­ex­press@thek­m­gro up.co.uk or write to Ken­tish Ex­press, 34-36 North Street, Ash­ford, Kent TN24 8JR.

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