Group under fire after chairman quits

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A MORPETH business group has come under fire from its former Chairman who dramatically quit the organisation.

Announcing his resignation, Stuart Lishman fiercely criticised how the Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade has performed and conducted itself in the last 12 months under the leadership of Chairman John Beynon.

But Mr Beynon has hit back, saying that the comments are ‘sour grapes’, and he defended what was achieved in 2010.

Mr Lishman, a B&B owner, stood down from the chairmanship last year, although he remained part of the chamber committee.

He said at a meeting of the group on Monday that it was with regret that he must resign from an organisation which has given him much enjoyment and satisfaction.

He added: “However, the last year within Chamber has been tedious, uneventful, negative and above all inharmonious.”

He criticised the management of sub groups, such as More in Morpeth and the taxis initiative, and complained about policy being decided both outside general and committee meetings.

He said there was a ‘casual and often disrespectful attitude towards the membership during meetings’ as well as a ‘disregard for the current constitution’.

Mr Lishman also criticised what he believes is an ‘unprofessional approach to other groups and stakeholders within Morpeth’.

After the meeting, Mr Beynon said: “I’m sorry that Stuart has resigned like this.

“Regarding the sub groups, we have made a lot of progress in a number of areas. For example, from not speaking to taxi firms we now have five who have joined us.

“Stuart initiated meetings before chamber meetings and while we do some networking outside meetings to come up with ideas, decisions are always based on votes at committee and full chamber.

“We also totally reject that we show a disrespectful attitude towards members.”

He added that a three way partnership has been set up with Morpeth Town Council and the Greater Morpeth Development Trust and meetings with them also include members of Northumberland County Council.

At Monday’s meeting, Alma Greener, who could not be present, also resigned, as did Lorraine Dewison, county council Manager for Customer Services, Registrars and Coroners, who blamed work commitments.