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"Maverick Southend councillor should quit"
8:00pm Wednesday 19th December 2012 in News
A MAVERICK councillor has been told to quit the job if he does not want to sit on any public committees.
Martin Terry, spokesman for Southend Council’s Independent group, called for Marimuthu Velmurugan to stand down from the authority.
The outspoken GP announced he was leaving the Independent group on Sunday, following an email exchange with Mr Terry, in which he said he did not want to sit on any committees to which he was “not entitled”.
Leaving the Independents could disbar Dr Velmurugan from almost all of the council’s committees because their membership is decided proportionally, based on each group or party’s size in the council chamber.
Mr Terry said: “If he is really saying he does not want to sit on committees then he should stand down, as he is not performing the role he was elected to do.
“He was elected to be a councillor and to scrutinise and shape policy.
“He cannot do that if he’s not on a committee.”
Dr Velmurugan retained his seat in Westborough ward by just 38 votes in May’s elections.
Since then, he has repeatedly distanced himself from his Independent colleagues and often aligned with the Conservative group in his voting and political literature.
The Echo understands he “resigned” from the Independent group in an email sent in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The move means the group now has ten seats on the council, down from 11, if Dr Velmurugun chooses to sit alone.
That would also mean he could lose his place on several committees, as places are assigned to each political group based on the number of seats they hold.
The “resignation” followed an earlier email exchange with Mr Terry, which was sent to other councillors, in which he criticised the group spokesman for offering him “money-spinning council job assignments”.
Mr Terry pointed out he had simply been assigning committee roles which had been agreed by Nigel Holdcroft, the Tory council leader.
He said: “I think Dr Velmurugan has misunderstood my email.
“There is no money involved in these roles, they are simply part of councillors’ duties.”
Dr Velmurugan was not available for comment.
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