Former Barney mayor explains why he refused to resign
FORMER Barney mayor John Blissett has revealed why he resisted calls to resign in the wake of an industrial tribunal judgement.
Mr Blissett, who this month failed in his bid to get re-elected to the town council, said he was committed to carrying out the job he was given because of his experience of doing his duty in the Army.
The former serviceman, who has been officially thanked for his 17 years’ service to the community, spoke out at last week's annual meeting of Barnard Castle Town Council.
He addressed the fall-out from an industrial tribunal which found the former deputy clerk Jane Woodward had been unfairly sacked. Both he and former senior councillor Sandra Moorhouse came in for strong criticism by the judge.
Mr Blissett said: “In the last couple of months I have had calls to resign. I did not resign because I was given a position to lead the council. And when I'm given a position like that... it was the same in the Army... I was given a duty to do and I will continue to do that duty.
“If everybody in the council had resigned as requested it would have been total disarray. We would not be where we are now.”
Mr Blissett presented his annual report which, along with handing over the mayoral chains of office, were his last actions at the town council. He said it had been a difficult year for the council and its staff, adding that the authority had not been as busy as other years because of the pandemic.
He praised the council's employees for doing a “sterling job” during the Covid-19 alert.
His annual report for 2020/21 highlighted the council's support for the Christmas lights, as well as the town’s “excellent” floral displays.
He also thanked Dominic Cummings for putting Barnard Castle on the map.
Referring to the criticism he had faced in the wake of the industrial tribunal, Mr Blissett thanked those who had “had his back”.
Mr Blissett added: “Thanks to all of those who stood for election and those who acted with dignity with no vexatious letters in the press.”
He welcomed new councillors, saying: “Let's start afresh.” But he had a few words of advice: “Do not think you are going to change the world in five minutes because it's not going to happen.”
He used the example of how long it took the town council to get control of The Demesnes as an example, as well as the long battle with Durham County Council to lease Woodleigh.
He finished by quoting author Sylvester McNutt who is credited with saying: “I can respect any person who can put their ego aside and say, ‘I made a mistake. I apologise, and I’m correcting the behaviour’.”
Mr Blissett said: “I point that at one person in here and I think he knows who it is.”
No further explanation was given.
Cllr Frank Harrison told the meeting Mr Blissett had done a “tremendous job”.
Cllr Chris Foote-Wood added later in the meeting: “People will be well aware that I have criticised him on one particular issue but I do not think that should overlook 17 years of service given to this council and the local area.
“I propose that the this council recognises the 17 years given by the former mayor and councillor John Blissett.”
Members agreed and a letter of thanks will be sent.