After substantial resistance, Wealden District Green/Lib Dem Alliance have finally yielded to calls from Conservative District Councillors for the council Chairman to stand down over a conflict of interest.
Cllr Christina Coleman, the Green Party Wealden District councillor for Danehill and Fletching, was publicly announced as a local Green Party parliamentary candidate at the next general election shortly after her appointment as Wealden District Council Chairman.
The role of chairman is a strictly non-political position involving chairing Full Council meetings, charity fundraising, and representing the authority as a non-partisan figurehead. Convention is that the Wealden District Chairman serves for up to two-years.
Conservative group leader, Cllr Ann Newton, wrote to the Wealden District Chief Executive twice in 2023 asking for a new council Chairman to be appointed to maintain the neutrality and dignity of the role. Former Wealden District Chairman and councillor Pam Doodes also called on Cllr Coleman to relinquish her position.
Cllr Michael Lunn said: “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. Councillor Coleman has clearly been using her role to promote both her own political career and the wider Green Party agenda tarnishing the reputation of the Office.”
Cllr Ann Newton leader of the WDC Conservative Group said: “I have been calling on Cllr Coleman to stand down since the summer. She has politicised the role of Chairman.
"The Alliance were very resistant to our calls. They now clearly accept that we were correct to demand this. The idea that this was pre-agreed is pure fantasy. No Chairman is appointed for a six-month term. It is disruptive to the running and costs of the council.
"Increasingly we see Wealden District Council being used as a vehicle for the promotion of the wider political ambitions of a number of Green Party councillors as opposed to providing quality local services to residents.”