There are calls for a Sussex council Chairman to be removed from office immediately over claims of political conflict.
Cllr Christina Coleman, the Green Party Wealden councillor for Danehill and Fletching, has been publicly announced as the Green Party candidate to fight the new East Grinstead and Uckfield constituency at the next general election.
This brings into question her strictly non-political position as Chairman of Wealden District Council, a role which involves charity fundraising and representing the authority as a non-partisan figurehead.
Wealden’s Conservative group leader, Cllr Ann Newton, has written to the Chief Executive asking for a new council Chairman to be appointed to maintain the neutrality and dignity of the role.
“It is extraordinary that Cllr Coleman allowed her name to be promoted in such a highly political way while still retaining her position as Chairman of our council”, said Cllr Newton. I have written to Wealden’s Chief Executive asking for the conflict to be addressed and he has agreed to speak to her about the matter. In the interests of probity, this clearly needs to be resolved with alacrity.”
The call has been echoed by Mims Davies the Conservative’s prospective parliamentary candidate for the new constituency: “By remaining in the position of chairman, Cllr Coleman could tarnish the reputation of the Office which must be strictly politically-neutral. I would urge Cllr Coleman to weigh up what is right and we will all watch with interest.”
The council’s constitution says of the Chairman’s profile that it is “to provide impartial and credible leadership of the civic and ceremonial aspects of the council’s business both externally and internally”.