A delegation of Crown Currency Action Group members – supported by Wells Lib Dem MP Tessa Munt – on Monday evening attended Mendip District Council’s Full Council meeting to protest at Cllr Edward James’ continuing to hold public office while a serious fraud investigation is taking place.
In an impassioned speech on behalf of the Crown Currency Action Group (full text below), Tony Forrester, the Action Group Treasurer, read out a prepared 3 minute statement to the full council. This was a Council that clearly expected trouble – with, uniquely, two police officers and a hired security guard present. In the event, the Crown Currency protesters conducted themselves with good grace and made their statement and left the meeting. All had travelled considerable distances – from as far away as Cornwall, Daventry, Birmingham and Southampton – to make their point.
“My name is Tony Forrester and as Treasurer of the Crown Currency Action Group I speak for almost two thousand of our members when I ask you to urgently consider how Councillor Edward James can be allowed to remain in public office.
Our action group is receiving hundreds of e-mails on a daily basis from bemused hardworking, honest members of the public who quite frankly cannot understand how Mr James can be allowed to remain in office.
Our members see examples in the press of MPs and councillors involved in matters of a far less serious nature pressured into resignation by the leaders of their respective political party. How then is it possible for Councillor James not to be subject to the same political pressure you would expect to see from his own peers?
Surely, it is a matter of common decency for both Councillor James and his fellow councillors to accept that his resignation is the very least he can offer before he brings Mendip Council in to even further disrepute?
We have the support of over two hundred & sixty members of Parliament across all parties and many of them have expressed their utter disbelief that this situation has been allowed to continue.
This group of concerned MPs are calling for a public inquiry into this matter and you do the good people of Mendip a huge disservice by allowing this embarrassing situation to continue.
Finally I urge you once again to implore Councillor James to resign as a councillor immediately before this debacle becomes a national embarrassment to the people of Mendip.
Furthermore, I speak on behalf of all our members in condemning the recent vandalism of The Holy Thorn Tree in Glastonbury. I can assure you that all our members are totally disgusted to discover this mindless act has taken place. As a group we have always tried to maintain the utmost dignity in the face of very difficult circumstances and we are outraged that Councillor Edward James could even consider the possibility that anyone from our group would be involved in such preposterous behaviour.
We would like to offer our sympathy to the people of Somerset & appreciate the significance & importance that the tree held for its residents. As a group we have received a great deal of sympathy from the people of Shepton Mallet, Mendip & surrounding areas. The furthest thing from our minds would be to cause them any distress.
It is deplorable that Councillor James could even think that anyone of our group would condone such behaviour. We can only assume that perhaps Councillor James is trying to deflect media attention from his recent arrest or to gain sympathy. In which case one might wonder who had more to be gained from the desecration of the Holy Tree?
Perhaps the false implication of a vendetta against Councillor James may be more beneficial to himself rather than anyone else. Apparently the police are looking for a motive; perhaps they need to look a bit closer to the tree.
In conclusion, please do not underestimate the gravity of the situation the Council finds itself in.”