Mayor should not stand for parliament claim Tories

Banbury town mayor Sean Woodcock. Picture by Lucy Ford NNL-140621-222958009
Banbury town mayor Sean Woodcock. Picture by Lucy Ford NNL-140621-222958009

Banbury Town Mayor Sean Woodcock should step down if he plans to stand as a parliamentary candidate the town council’s leader has said.

Mr Woodcock, who was elected as town mayor in May, is set to take part in the Labour Party selection process to become a parliamentary candidate tomorrow (Friday) alongside a second candidate Paul Fisher.

But his decision has been criticised by some Tory councillors who believe the mayor should stay out of political office as the role is a non-political one.

Cllr Kieron Mallon, chairman of Banbury Town Council, said: “We’ve always had an agreement to share the role of mayor between the political parties in Banbury, with the understanding that the mayor is a non-political figurehead for the year.

“We asked the Labour group if there were any ambitions to be the parliamentary candidate for 2015 as they couldn’t do both.

“We were assured at the time that he had no thoughts whatsoever about standing as a Labour parliamentary candidate. We therefore supported his nomination to be Banbury mayor.

“We were shocked to learn that he had not only put himself forward as a candidate but that the Labour party had shortlisted him.

“Some of these people will be the same as those who sit on the town council for Labour and knew of our concerns from the start.

“If councillor Woodcock is a man of honour he should decide what role he wants and stand down as mayor or drop his name from the nomination procedure.”

Cllr Woodcock vehemently denies making a pledge not to stand for political office and said he does not believe it would impinge on his ability to fulfil his duties as mayor.

He said: “It’s troublemaking on the part of certain people rather than genuinne concerns. Firstly, I made no such comments in that regard whatsoever and any indication that I did is completely false.

“I’m absolutely determined that in my role as mayor I will be completely impartial and uphold the traditional role by being apolitical.”

Alan Jones of The National Association of Local Councils said it is up to individual councils to decide if their mayors can hold other offices, but said it is not unusual.

Banbury Town Clerk Mark Recchia said: “The mayoral role has always been strictly non-political and the guidance issued to each mayor regarding protocol at the start of their term reminds him or her about this.

“It will be for the mayor to decide if he can be non-political when carrying out his mayoral duties.”