‘I AM disappointed but, sadly, not surprised’ – an ex-Conservative councillor makes shock resignation as chair of a scrutiny meeting.

Councillor Gurch Singh (St Mary’s) made an emotional statement at a virtual infrastructure overview and scrutiny meeting on July 20 (Monday) telling members he will resign ‘with immediate effect’.

The ex-Tory member – whose application to join the Liberal Democrats is pending – was kicked out of the Conservative group after being under investigation for ten allegations of ‘potential breaches’.

Cllr Singh – who became chairman of the scrutiny meeting on June 16 – spoke out and said the Conservative group has a ‘culture of bullying and a lot of victimisation’.

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Since then, a motion of no confidence in the councillor’s chairmanship was lodged by the Conservatives – which would’ve been debated at the next council meeting – after being ousted by the party and defecting to the Lib Dems.

At the meeting, panel members were voting on what items should be included in the work programme, such as 5G and highways, for this year and part of next year to debate and scrutinise.

Coming to the end of the infrastructure meeting, an emotional Cllr Singh made a statement saying he will resign as chairman – pausing briefly on occasions when reading out.

He said: “Last week a motion of no confidence in my chairmanship was tabled by the Conservative group and it was signed by all three of the group representatives of the panel.

“I am disappointed but, sadly, not surprised that you have taken this route instead of discussing your concerns directly with me.

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“My first instinct was to ignore the motion and give it the contempt it deserves. However, the reality is that you [Conservatives] represent the majority on this panel and it makes it impossible for me to continue the role without hindering the work programme and resident interests.

“Now that it is in place, I can step away in content that we are in good position to challenge the administration policy, assumption, and to scrutinise their decisions.

“Therefore, in closing this meeting, I simultaneously resign as chair with immediate effect.”

Just before the meeting went offline, an officer said councillor John Baldwin (Liberal Democrat: Belmont) had his hand up to speak.

“Can we close the meeting, please”, said Cllr Singh, where the stream abruptly ended.