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Councillor turns back on deputy mayor role

By BurtonMail.3520969.BurtonMail  |  Posted: March 19, 2014

Nathan Birnie (right) with former council leader Richard Grosvenor

Nathan Birnie (right) with former council leader Richard Grosvenor

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A COUNCILLOR has ruled himself out of becoming Burton’s next deputy mayor - just weeks after it was confirmed he would takeover the position from May.

Nathan Birnie said he had backed away from the role due to personal reasons, having been due to become deputy to mayor-in-waiting Ron Clarke.

It appears he has also given up his chance of becoming mayor in 2015, with the deputy normally taking over the reins.

The former Conservative borough councillor was appointed to the role in controversial circumstances.

Dubbed one of the ‘gang of four’, his decision and that of three fellow Tories to quit the party last year and set up the East Staffordshire Independent Group saw the controlling group lose its majority, allowing Labour to overthrow leader Richard Grosvenor and swoop into power last month.

Under the new regime, Councillor Birnie was handed the prestigious role of deputy mayor, with two other independent members filling cabinet positions at Burton Town Hall.

A replacement has yet to be announced, but it is thought unlikely to be another ‘Tory rebel’.

Speaking to the Mail, Councillor Birnie, who represents the Weaver ward, said he had reconsidered since putting himself forward for the role.

He said: “I took the decision due to personal reasons. It took me a few days to come to the decision and it was a role I was looking forward to but looking back, I thought to myself ‘is this right?’.”

Eton councillor Ron Clarke, who will take the mayoral chains from May, said he was surprised by the decision.

He said: “I was surprised but he said it is for personal reasons and I think it will be for his benefit.”

Councillor Clarke said he didn’t think another independent member would fill the position.

“I don’t know, but I doubt it. But it’s down to anyone basically to put themselves forward,” he said.

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