Leader and deputy of conflict-ridden Maldon District Council resign

The leader and deputy leader of Maldon District Council have stepped down following reports of threats made against councillors and council staff.

Councillor Wendy Stamp (Ind, Burnham-on-Crouch North) and Councillor Stephen Nunn (Ind, Maldon North) announced today (November 11) they have resigned.

They will continue to be elected members of the council, according to a council statement.

The resignations come days after a video emerged which appeared to show Cllr Stamp’s husband and Councillor Chrisy Morris (Ind, Heybridge West), who disrupted a full council meeting last week, in an altercation.

Head of paid service Richard Holmes said in the statement: “Both councillors continue to be committed elected members of the council representing their wards and the district, supporting all the good work they do for the communities they serve.

“These resignations come at a difficult time for Maldon District Council, however, as a local authority, we cannot state strongly enough that the media attention the council has received in recent weeks has led to abuse against staff and councillors.

“Staff are receiving daily episodes of abuse and threats of violence.

“We are putting out a message of zero tolerance and want to put a stop to unnecessary hateful behaviour, fuelled by unsubstantiated allegations. Our staff are simply doing their job and are key workers. They have every right to feel safe in the workplace and in their community.”

Cllr Stamp said in the statement: “I have and will always put the work of the council, democratic process and staff safety first.

“By stepping down, I am taking the right steps to ensure what this council and its staff have been subjected to in recent weeks stops.

“I am giving my fellow councillors the opportunity to come together and stand up to what has been a hurtful attack on the Council, and I urge the media to look a little closer at the individuals who are causing this disruption.

“I will continue to repeat the statement made by the barrister who wrote the independent report on the sanctions placed upon Cllr Morris, it stated: Cllr Chrisy Morris demonstrates the capacity to lie, mislead and intimidate.”

Cllr Nunn said in the statement: “It is with sadness that I feel the need to resign as deputy leader in such circumstances.

“I’m doing this in support of Cllr Wendy Stamp’s decision to resign but also, I feel this is the right thing to do to enable the Council to move forward in a positive way and to ensure democratic business can be heard and carried out without further disruption or delay.”

Barrie Stamp, Cllr Stamp’s husband, and Cllr Morris appeared to be engaged in an altercation in a video which was posted to YouTube on Saturday November 6.

Last Thursday (November 4), Cllr Morris caused disruption in a district council meeting by repeatedly shouting “point of order” over other councillors and refusing to leave when asked.

The police were called, and one officer told Cllr Morris he was “breaching the peace”. The meeting was then abandoned.

The council was due to vote on agreeing the findings of an investigation into Cllr Morris, which evidenced “a clear pattern of aggressive, intimidating behaviour” and concluded he had committed “serious breaches” of the code of conduct.

Cllr Morris disputes the findings of the report.

What happens next?

According to the statement, Cllr Richard Siddall (Ind, Great Totham) will become “leader designate” after being elected by the Independent Group.

Cllr Jeanette Stilts (Ind, Maldon South) has been elected deputy leader of the Independent Group. Both she and Cllr Siddall will be appointed and ratified at a full council meeting on December 17.

Charlie Ridler

Local Democracy Reporter