Belper’s mayor is stripped of her duties

breaking news
breaking news

Belper’s mayor has been stripped of her public duties - and no civic service will be held this year either.

The decisions were made when Belper Town Council’s general purposes committee went into private session to discuss the squabble with mayor and ‘first citizen’ Deborah Biss.

She has been sent a letter from councillors, saying they have “no confidence” in her after she criticised staff and councillors in a public part of November’s council meeting.

This week the Conservative mayor, whose year-long term in office ends in May when a new civic leader takes over, said: “l will continue to refuse requests to resign.”

She claimed the reasons cited by councillors for the vote of no confidence were “not able to be substantiated as they are opinion not fact”.

“Votes of no confidence in a mayor should not happen as there is no legal power to enforce this action,” she said.

Deputy Mayor Joe Booth has been asked to take over all her civic duties after councillors claimed Cllr Biss failed to attend a Showmen’s Guild dinner or the rededication of an undertaker’s chapel.

She was due to unveil a plaque which included her name - and councillors claim part of it had to then be “hidden for publicity photos”.

Councillor Biss said the dispute has made her ill and she had been signed off work sick by her doctor for a fortnight as a result.

She said she had not been told the civic service had been abandoned, adding: “I have tried very hard to do my best to uphold my mayoral duties which include the lawful operation of the council.”

She said as much as “I astonished the council in the November meeting by submitting a complaint” regarding a number of alleged issues, the authority had “amazed me since” with their tactics.

Since that night, all Labour councillors and all but one Conservative have refused to attend council meetings where she would normally act as chairman.

After getting advice from local government experts, the council set up a general purposes committee chaired by the deputy mayor.

Finance committee chairman councillor Alan Cox said: “The situation has eased now.

“The council is now working again through the general purposes


In minutes from the private session of that committee, members were told the mayor was allegedly failing to reply to correspondence sent from the town clerk’s office. It said the deputy mayor Cllr Booth had attended the undertaker’s event “to avoid causing embarrassment or disappointment”.

The minute said the meeting agreed it was, “very important the council has a representative to attend events and it was alleged the mayor had shown a lack of respect by not attending events and not responding to the secretary’s telephone calls and emails.

“It was resolved to remove all mayoral duties from the mayor and invite the deputy mayor to fulfil the duties for the remaining term of office,” it said.