There are now two vacant seats on Hedge End Town Council after Councillor Louise Bloom, the former partner of Council Leader Keith House, resigned her Grange Park West seat last night citing personal reasons.
Although the Eastleigh Borough Council Cabinet member for the environment has surrendered her place on the town council , she will continue to represent the ward on the Borough Council.
Bloom recently hit National headlines after branding her former partner Council Leader Keith House a ‘liar and a cheat’ on twitter after he dumped her for another Councillor, recently promoted to the cabinet.
Since her relationship break-up six months ago, Cllr Bloom has only attended one out of her last thirteen scheduled council meetings.
Cllr Bloom has said she has been unwell and is currently recovering from an operation but there has been speculation in the press that she has been missing council meetings in order to avoid her former partner and his new girlfriend – an allegation Cllr Bloom strongly denies.
Over the last 12 months there has been a spate of councillor resignations from HETC for “personal reasons.”
Earlier last year Cllr Peter Hughes and Caitlin Bloom (Cllr Blooms daughter) both resigned from HETC and they were followed by Cllr Jenny Hughes (Peter Hughes partner) in November and now Louise Bloom.
The timing of previous resignations and non-attendance by Bloom and Jenny Hughes (who did not attend any meetings during her last six months of office) has drawn sharp criticism from local opposition politicians.
During a protest outside the Civic Offices last month Ukip Eastleigh Chairman Glynn Davies-Dear told Eastleigh News he thought Cllr Bloom should give up her Borough seat if she was unable to attend.
“If she can’t face going in to the council chamber – I understand that – but with all the sympathy in the world she ought to resign.”
Mark Latham – Labour’s candidate for Eastleigh in this year’s General Election has gone further.
Shortly before Christmas he sent a strongly worded open letter to Eastleigh Liberal Democrats accusing senior local Lib Dems of showing “arrogance and contempt for the voters of Eastleigh” by “avoiding a by-election at a time when the local plan has crashed and by using town hall funds for questionable purposes.”
Latham said Bloom should have:
“Stepped down at this this crucial time for the Borough Local Plan if she was avoiding or unable to perform her duties”
Latham also demanded that Eastleigh Liberal Democrats make ‘immediate arrangements” to “repay” Eastleigh Borough Council any contributions received by the party from Jenny Hughes and Louise Bloom over the past six months.
Latham said that Lib Dem councillors are required to contribute to Lib Dem funds under the terms of the party’s constitution and wanted to know how much the local party had received from Bloom and Hughes during the last six months while that were absent from meetings.
Referring to reports that senior Lib Dems had asked Jenny Hughes to delay the announcement of her resignation, Latham asked if this was so that the party could continue to benefit from payments made out of their tax-payer funded allowances.
Responding to Latham’s criticism a spokesperson for Eastleigh Lib Dems said that payment of allowances were a matter for Eastleigh Borough Council and that:
“Contributions by members to the party are private and not reported unless required under the PPERA legislation (Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000).”
“Elected representatives of all political parties make contributions to their political parties.”
Regarding the timing of Jenny Hughes resignation the Lib Dem spokesperson said:
“Jenny Hughes was advised if she did not attend council meetings she would lose her party membership.
As we had been informed she has moved away from the area her resignation was appropriate.”
Eastleigh Borough Council has previously explained to Eastleigh News that under the regulations that govern local councils, councillors need only attend a meeting once every six months and that Cllr Bloom has not breached rules on attendance.
Applications are currently being invited for two casual vacancies for councillors on the Hedge End Town Council website – one for Shamblehurst and one for Grange Park West.