Midhurst Town Council chairman quits over ‘carping’

John Etherington with Denise Meek (sitting) and Mhairi Harkins
John Etherington with Denise Meek (sitting) and Mhairi Harkins

IN a shock announcement veteran Midhurst town councillor John Etherington has stepped down from his post as chairman.

He was the only town councillor left who had been elected by voters in Midhurst. He joined in May 1983 and had served the last six years as chairman.

But he said he had become increasingly frustrated by the “constant carping which has become more than I can stand.

“I decided I could no longer put up with the unnecessary confrontation and people coming along with their own agendas which is not the way we should be conducting ourselves. There is too much point scoring going on inside the council.”

In addition, one the things which had saddened him the most was the recent row over the date for the council’s Christmas street party.

“I reinstated the party with former councillor Colin Hughes and the plan was to have a social evening with free rides for children. It was always intended to be for families. It has got bigger and bigger over the years traders have been able to take advantage of it, which is great. But the criticism of myself over this has been very hard to take.

“I have said that if they want to change the date, they could count me out, “Perhaps the traders would like to organise it themselves and run it on the night. I don’t think people realise how much is involved.”

But Mr Etherington said he was pleased and proud of many of the council’s achievements during his years as a councillor.

They included the provision of the skatepark, recreational facilities, the draining and extension of the cemetery, being involved in plans for the New Grange, the birth of the South Downs National Park and the decision to set up its headquarters in Midhurst as well as the town council’s move to its new home at the Old Library.

Mr Etherington who is 78, said he had not intended to stand again last May “but I was coaxed into it to help the new town clerk and her deputy into their jobs, which I have done and they are more than able to run the show.”

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