Town election after councillor loses seat

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Voters go to the polls next Thursday in a town council election prompted after a councillor was dismissed for failing to attend meetings.

Warren Hill stood as the Conservative candidate for the Haywards Heath Town Council ward of Ashenground in May 2011. But only four months after he won victory the then 23-year-old said he felt his time was being ‘wasted’, his opinions often ‘disregarded because of his age’ and it was a ‘battle to be heard’.

He announced in the press that he was quitting his party and would become an independent councillor instead.

Leader of the Conservative Group at Haywards Heath Town Council, Cllr Tim Farmer, said at the time he was “extremely disappointed” in Cllr Hill who had attended just 25 per cent of town council meetings he should have and questioned how he expected his voice to be heard when his attendance record was so poor.

Cllr Hill said, as a young councillor, he had felt sidelined by the council which was the reason for his attendance record. He also felt the training courses he had been offered and had not attended were inadequate for councillors.

He vowed to attend meetings as often as he could as an independent and do all he could to meet public expectations.

However, Steve Trice, clerk to Haywards Heath Town Council, said Cllr Hill had been ‘automatically dismissed’ on September 19 under the Six Month Rule for non-attendance of council meetings during that period of time.

As a result a by-election will be held for the vacant seat in Ashenground ward on November 15, the same day as elections for the Police and Crime Commissioners across the country.

The by-election candidates are (in alphabetical order): Howard Burrell, UKIP; Charlotte Jones, LibDem; Melvyn Walmsley, Labour; Sujan Wickremaratchi, Conservative.