A Tory peer has quit as chairman of a parish council after a rebellion from “newcomers” who called for a speed limit to be cut.
Lord Howard of Rising has confirmed that he has now stepped down as chairman of Castle Rising parish council after 35 years in the role, with a letter criticising new arrivals to the Norfolk village who opposed his leadership.
The decision came after increasing tensions between the members of the parish council of the village of more than 200 people, which included a dispute over bringing a 60mph speed limit down to a 30mph.
In his resignation letter, first reported in the Eastern Daily Press, Lord Howard, whose ancestor William d’Aubigny, 1st Earl of Arundel, built the 12th-century fortress Castle Rising is known for, said the character of the council had changed as a result of new arrivals.
The 82-year-old, who once served as an aide to Enoch Powell, wrote: “There has always been a very friendly and amicable relationship at the council but recently this has changed.
“I felt the council was going in a direction that was wrong for the village.
“People have moved into Castle Rising with different views on how they wanted to do things and the only correct thing for me to do was to resign.”
Speed limit contention
Following the parish council election earlier this year, Lord Howard remained chairman after receiving 13 per cent of the vote, the largest share received by a councillor.
One of the key sticking points for his decision to stand down was the speed limit which has been a bone of contention in the village in recent months.
The peer – who owns much of the land in the village – opposed lowering the speed limit to 30mph.
He argued that putting in 30mph signs would damage the character of the picturesque hamlet – which is in a conservation area – and said people naturally slow down due to the road configuration.
But some fellow parish councillors argued the new measures were wanted by the local community, and suggested they had been wanting changes for years.
Earlier this year, Rob Colwell, who is a Lib Dem county councillor for Gaywood South, wrote that residents in Castle Rising had been demanding a lower speed limit for decades but had been greeted by “Tory roadblocks”.
He heard accounts of “cars flying through wooden fences, making huge holes, cars going through hedges into back gardens”.
Tensions came to a head at a meeting in early November over the issue, with Lord Howard giving the new proposed speed limit as his reason for quitting.
‘Improper for me to continue’
In a speech announcing his resignation, included in the minutes of the parish council meeting on Nov 3, he said: “I am going to resign as chairman. Having strongly opposed the speed limit it would be improper for me to continue leading this parish council. I will also resign from the parish council.”
His resignation added: “The newcomers wanted to make the council more bureaucratic through a code of conduct and to increase taxation. People should not be taxed unnecessarily.
“All of this was taking away from the village atmosphere of the council.”
Lord Howard has a close relationship with the Royal family and was lifelong friends with Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.
He has served in various ministerial positions in the Conservative Party and he was made a life peer in 2004.