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Whittlesey prepares for yet another by election after former mayor quits

An independent challenger is waiting in the wings

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Whittlesey staked its claim today to be the ‘by election capital’ of the Fens with yet another resignation from the town council. Recovering from by elections for one vacancy last September and two in March of this year, it was revealed last night another is now required.

Kay Mayor, a long serving councillor, has resigned from Whittlesey town council and Fenland District Council.

Only days after stepping down as Mayor of Whittlesey, she has decided to leave both councils for personal and family reasons.

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It means voters in part of the town will get to elect both a town and district councillor when they vote in the General Election on July 4.

Kay decided to time her resignation to coincide with the General Election to avoid yet more expense for the town council incurring the extra cost if a by election was held at a different time.

“Kay has been my fellow councillor here in Whittlesey South since last May, and we have worked very well together as a ‘team’ for the ward as a whole,” said independent councillor Roy Gerstner.

“I am sorry to see her go at this time but fully understand the circumstances.”

Results from May 2023 were:

The result for Whittlesey South was as follows: Peter Bibb (Ind) – 337; Maria Bocca (Con) – 432; Roy Gerstner (Ind) – 472; Kay Mayor (Con) – 537. Turn out 30%.

An independent challenger is already waiting in the wings to contest the vacancy (the name was given to me last night) but no word yet from the Conservatives or other parties.

Flashback to 2018: Kay Mayor, chair of Fenland District Council, with MP Steve Barclay her coffee morning for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Flashback to 2018: Kay Mayor, chair of Fenland District Council, with MP Steve Barclay her coffee morning for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Kay is a long-standing member of both the town and district councils and is a former chair of Fenland District Council.

She has held numerous posts at Fenland Hall and is also a former chair of the NE Cambs Conservative Association. She resigned that post, however, in 2018 having found it particularly fractious an internal row that has seen long standing councillors de-selected.

At the association’s annual meeting the president Victor Aveling had attacked his own executive for de-selecting four senior councillors – three of them cabinet members of Fenland Council and the fourth the chairman of the planning committee.

All that is now behind Kay as she puts her civic life and duties to one side.

Recent by elections in Whittlesey were caused earlier this year by the resignations – at the same time – of Councillor Simon Black and Councillor Luke Turner, who represented the St Andrews and North West wards.

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Ironically, Cllr Turner had only been elected to the council the previous September following the surprise resignation of Cllr Ray Whitwell.

Both by elections were held on the same day as those for the police and crime commissioner.

By election, May, Whittlesey

By election, May, Whittlesey

The town council has been plunged into controversy in recent weeks, particularly after it ignored a request by Fenland District Council to amend a Facebook page which purported to be officially agreed by the town council.

Tory councillors set up the page and have now described it as ‘unofficial’ and have banned anyone not toeing the party line from viewing its contents.

Independent councillor Eamonn Dorling is among those who challenged it, but he was barred from adding an item to discuss publicity to the agenda for last week’s meeting.

However, he overcame that imposition by giving his thoughts on the issue by temporarily becoming a member of the public and using the open forum at the beginning of the meeting to address his fellow councillors.

The same meeting saw other changes at the council including Cllr Jason Mockett becoming leader and Cllr Chris Boden elected deputy leader.

Ironically only last year Cllr Mockett emailed colleagues telling them he was quitting the Conservative group and planned to become an independent

Cllr Jason Mockett wrote that he had been “shocked, disgusted, embarrassed” and was extremely disappointed at the ensuing arguments over how to spend the £1m given to the town and originally designated for a heritage centre.

Cllr Jason Mockett,

Cllr Jason Mockett, new leader of Whittlesey town council

That Cllr Mockett reconsidered the following day (“for your information and clarity, I’m still a member of the FDC Conservative group” he messaged me) his anger remained.

And he might still have carried out his threat to quit had not the North East Association reminded him that “resigning” to town councillor colleagues was not going through the proper channels, and secondly his thoughts of retaining Conservative Party membership but remaining as an independent would not have been acceptable.

Cllr Jan French, chair of NECCA, told me: “NECCA has never had a resignation from Jason”.

She also added “A day is a long time in politics,” and so it turned out.

A new leader also meant the displacement of Cllr Dr Ha Nawaz who had only held the post since last September.

The Conservative Muslim Forum posted at the time: “Congratulations to Dr Haq Nawaz being elected Leader of the excellent group at Whittlesey Town Council”.

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