Former council leader launches stinging attack - The Stratford Observer
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17th Aug, 2022

Former council leader launches stinging attack

Catherine Thompson 20th Mar, 2019 Updated: 20th Mar, 2019

THE FORMER leader of Stratford District Council has launched a stinging attack on his successor.

Coun Chris Saint has resigned from the district Conservative group after claiming a series of moves undermined his contribution leaving him ‘isolated’.

The 76-year-old, who has served on the district council for two decades, remained at the helm for seven years until last May when he was replaced by Welcombe ward councillor Tony Jefferson.

It followed Coun Saint’s hospitalisation after he suffered a knee abscess, which was among a number of reasons he cited as being used to replace him.

The dad-of-five said: “Coun Jefferson was not my choice of successor and sadly, quickly lost my confidence when I appeared to be removed from every position I had held. Although too ill to lead last summer, I still retained many of my marbles and could have made a contribution to the team. Instead I felt isolated, alone and neglected.

“Coun Jefferson’s excuse at the time was that he was unsure if I would return. Where did the evidence for that come from? There were no discussions with me.”

Further alarm bells rang for the veteran councillor in January when he found out another Conservative candidate would be contesting his Shipston North ward seat. Usually seats are only contested by one party candidate.

It was then Coun Saint decided to retire as councillor and not contest the seat following what he called an ‘obvious manoeuvre’.

Coun Saint also accused council chiefs of allowing policy documents to be nodded through without consideration. And when he queried two particular documents which failed to circulate, he was told they had been agreed by a committee.

He further claimed election campaign literature implied recent changes were for the better, despite three cabinet members set to retire in May and another having just resigned.

He called the information a ‘personal insult’ to his achievements as leader.

But his successor Coun Jefferson dismissed the claims as ‘obsessive’.

He said: “It is a shame that Coun Saint has chosen to make these comments. The focus now should be on praising him for his many years of fine leadership rather than obsessing about the reasons behind why so many colleagues felt that a fresh start and new leadership was needed. Coun Saint agreed to stand for leadership of the Conservative group in May 2018 and was defeated. This was democracy in action.

“Coun Saint withdrew from contesting his ward. He was not the only potential candidate to withdraw.

“Stratford on Avon District Council is a well run local authority and under this administration we are building on the successes of Coun Saint’s time and improving the many areas where change was needed.”

The Tory leader added the relevant officer had confirmed Coun Saint had been happy with a response clearing up the query about the policy documents he said were not circulated.

Coun Saint was first elected for Tredington ward, where he lives with wife Linda. Following a boundary review he was elected to the Shipston North ward in 2015.


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