Deputy Mayor quits Labour Party following chains row

The Deputy Mayor of Skegness has resigned from the Labour Party after two branch colleagues challenged his plans to borrow the mayoral chains in aid of charity.

Coun Jim Carpenter was ‘disappointed’ his motion was opposed by fellow Labour councillors Phil Kemp and the incumbent Mayor of Skegness Mark Anderson at Wednesday’s meeting.

Speaking after his resignation, Coun Carpenter said: “For some time I’ve not really felt that I’ve been part of the Labour Party, for reasons I would rather not go into, but because the people who voted for me did so as a Labour candidate, I was prepared to stay with the party until the end of the term.

“Wednesday night was the icing on the cake and I came home and thought I can still represent the people and make decisions for the town without being part of the party so I resigned.

“I was disappointed that two fellow Labour councillors had not supported me and I felt terrible afterwards.”

His request was to wear the mayoral chains in photographs promoting the charities he will support if elected to the role in May.

The photographs would have been paid for by the Stagecoach, for whom Coun Carpenter is an employee, to feature on the back of a bus, promoting the charity.

The motion was well supported by a majority of Conservative and Labour councillors who approved it on vote.

Coun Carl Macey said it was an ‘excellent’ idea, Coun Neil Cooper praised its ‘innovative’ approach, Coun Dick Edgignton also lent his support to the ‘novel’ proposal and Coun George Saxon thought it was a ‘great’ suggestion, he felt other mayors could follow in the future.

Coun Phil Kemp, however, felt it set a ‘dangerous precedent’ and said he was ‘totally against it’.

He said: “When you are mayor you will be free to do it, but doing it before hand is the wrong way.”

Although it is a customary formality for deputy mayors to become mayor the following year, Coun Anderson also thought it inappropriate to borrow the chains in advance.

“I think back to the days of Harold Fainlight and other mayors that were held in high esteem by our community and I can’t think for one moment of anyone handing over the mayoral chain before someone else swore an oath - it doesn’t matter if it’s just a photo,” he said.

He feared the precedent would make a ‘comic’ of the mayor and further erode the town’s civic pride, which he claims has been in decline for years, culminating in his own ‘awful’ mayoral year.

Coun Steve Kirk also felt it wrong to ‘pass off’ being mayor before signing the oath, although he voted in favour in the end.

Former Lincolnshire County Council chairman Coun Neil Cooper explained that his successor had borrowed the chains to pose for pictures in advance of his taking the role and couldn’t see why there should be any difference in this instance.

Coun Carpenter has not decided which party, if any, he will join but says he will give 100 per cent to the role of mayor.

“The role of mayor is non-political, which suits me fine, because, though it might sound strange for a town councillor, I’m not a very political person,” he said.

“I joined the council because I wanted to do things for the town - there’s no point discussing what’s going on in Parliament but we can make decisions that move the town forward.”

The two charities he has chosen to support are Boston’s Women Aid and a church aided scheme helping terminally ill cancer patients in Skegness receive home care.