Anger as mayor makes early exit from funeral
COUNCILLOR COMPLAINS AFTER CIVIC LEADER LEAVES BEFORE SERVICE FINISHES
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.
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