MIDDLEWICH Town Council has offered a public apology to the former community mayor, deputy, and their consorts.

Cllr Mike Hunter read out a statement agreed by 'the majority' of councillors at the outset of a meeting on Monday night.

At the meeting, councillors agreed to suspend the honorary community mayoral role pending a further review.

A report on the events which led to the resignations of Dave Roberts and Linda Boden will be offered to the pair for review before being accepted by the council.

The statement said: "We unreservedly apologise to Dave Roberts, Lynne Hardy, Linda and John Boden for the hurt, embarrassment and inconvenience this council has caused them in relation to the honorary community mayor and deputy roles.

"We would like to place on record our sincere thanks for all four for stepping up, carrying out their duties with dignity and doing everything possible to make a success of the new roles.

Winsford Guardian:

"Under no circumstances can any blame be attributed to Dave, Lynne, Linda and John. The fault lies with Middlewich Town Council.

"We seek not to make excuses and residents deserve an explanation of what happened and assurances that it cannot happen again.

After the election the council was keen to get on with delivering the Honorary Community Mayor, rather than elect a new mayor under the old system.

"The council sought advice from the Cheshire Association of Local Councils who gave us the go-ahead.

"So, a new chairman of the council was elected, and a truncated process was used to appoint Dave Roberts, with Lynne Hardy as his companion, which was all done correctly and voted on by the full council.

"We would therefore have a chairperson to do all the chairing of meetings and a community mayor to carry out all the functions.

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"Once this was in place, the council then pushed on with a full external audit of the council's finances, which is still being delivered. Among the many issues uncovered and recommendations made, one related to the payment of expenses to the Honorary Community Mayor and requested that the council conduct a review and make changes.

"This was agreed by councillors and we very much believed at this stage any issues were resolvable.

"Key to the initial advice we received that allowed us to proceed, was that it is an honorary position and that no statutory duties would be performed by the holder.

"A full application process for a deputy mayor was conducted. Linda Boden was selected with John Boden as her companion.

Winsford Guardian:

"Further advice was obtained from the Society of Local Council Clerks and the National Association of Local Councils which appeared to contradict our original advice – specifically that the council did not have the necessary power to create a community mayor.

"Due to this apparent contradiction, councillors felt that further advice should be obtained and all advice clarified.

"However, some councillors believed that there was little choice but to suspend the mayoral position until all problems had been investigated.

"In conclusion, we could not have wished for better first post holders for the Honorary Community Mayor, Deputy and companions in Dave, Lynne, Linda and John.

"Middlewich Town Council apologises for the actions we took and resolves to ensure that cannot happen again."