Controversial chairman of Leigh Town Council re-elected

The controversial chairman of Leigh Town Council has been elected to serve another term despite a 2,000-signature petition calling for his resignation.

Bernard Arscott will lead the troubled council for another year after a vote at an annual town council meeting on Tuesday.

At an annual residents meeting on Friday more than 100 residents called for a vote of no confidence in Mr Arscott and the Tory administration after months of frustrations at the council.

Mr Arscott and his group came under fire after town clerk Helen Symmons was suspended and an inquiry launched into community centre staffing.

Earlier this month he made a police complaint for criminal damage after residents used sticky tape to attach a leaflet to the community centre noticeboard.

The petition called for the nine Tory councillors, who took seats that were unopposed in 2023, to resign and stand for re-election.

James Preston, a Leigh resident and member of the Looking After Leigh Facebook group, said it was “disappointing there was no change of chair” but he said: “Full working parties were discussed for some of the services we haven’t seen this year like the youth engagement programme. It’s a real big positive.

“It wasn’t as boisterous as previous meetings which is a positive. It shouldn’t be a pantomime and it didn’t feel like one.”

At the meeting, Tory town councillor Judith Suttling successful called for three Independent councillors to sit on council committees.

She, alongside councillor Anne Robinson, abstained from the chairmanship vote.

Independent Carole Mulroney, welcomed the chance to sit on and speak out at committee meetings.

She said: “It was quite a surprise. It was still us calling them into question on an awful lot of stuff but it wasn’t a bad meeting. There were about 100 people there.”

Following Friday’s meeting – which Conservative councillors didn’t attend – resident questions were submitted and a June 7 deadline set for responses.

Mr Arscott said: “We are hoping for a far more settled year than the previous year. We’re hoping we will be able to achieve a lot more than we did previously when we were dominated by particular events.

“Now those matters are virtually concluded we are hoping to see more improvements. We’ve already got refurbishment of the kitchen in the community centre. There’s a lot more happening this year and we are looking forward to doing further things for the community next year.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter