Hawkenbury residents call for Norfolk-based councillor Peter Bulman to resign
by William Mata | 8th October 2018
Hawkenbury residents are now calling for the resignation of a Park ward councillor who lives 160 miles away in Holt in North Norfolk.
Cllr Peter Bulman is refusing to step down from Tunbridge Wells Borough Council He still picks up his £5,500-a-year allowance and attends some meetings at Town Hall.
Fellow councillors have previously asked him to step aside and now his constituents are also asking the Conservative, elected in 2016, to resign.
Cllr Bulman previously said he could respond to residents’ requests via email. Jonathan Hawker, who lives in Whybourne Crest in Hawkenbury, recently contacted him this way to raise concerns about plans for a 12m phone mast in Forest Way – but received a ‘tardy platitude’ in response.
He said: “The prospective mast highlighted the issue that Park ward deserves better than an absentee councillor.
“Whilst many people believe they can accept a councillor who does not live in a ward, but I’ve not encountered anyone who thinks it’s appropriate or acceptable for a councillor to not live in the town they represent, let alone the county.
“Our other Park councillors Tracy Moore and Nick Pope have supported us. But what can anyone expect from someone living in North Norfolk? He was probably unaware of the risk to the community the phone mast posed until we contacted him repeatedly.
“In my view Cllr Bulman should resign. He should stand aside for someone who has enough respect for this community to turn up and do the job properly.”
From April of this year, Cllr Bulman has attended three out of eight meetings he was expected at, giving his apologies on three of the five occasions he was absent.
Dean Kenward, Chairman of Hawkenbury Residents Association, said the councillor should vacate with several issues, including a new primary school, pump track and housing development, facing the village.
"I don't see how a councillor can serve the local community when they live in a different county,” he told the Times.
“Even if they attend all the required meetings, they have very little insight into what is happening in the community they are meant to represent.
“Hawkenbury is undergoing huge change with the housing development and the school. A councillor living in Norfolk cannot be actively involved. I feel quite strongly that councillors should live in the ward that they want to represent. If they move out of that ward, they should vacate their seat."
The Times has approached Cllr Bulman for a response, but none had been received at the time of writing.
He previously said: "I can still serve my constituents by email and phone and there is nothing I have stopped doing. I have not noticed a difference in the feeling locally and I have not seen any backlash."
Fellow Conservative calls for Cllr Bulman’s resignation
Cllr Tracy Moore, who also represents Park ward, said: “I feel very strongly that it is impossible to properly represent residents of Park ward from North Norfolk.
“You can’t do the job solely by email and occasionally attend a full council with a list of questions. Residents of Park ward deserve better and Cllr Bulman’s term is not up until May of 2020.
“The honourable thing to do would be to stand aside so that a candidate with a real connection to our ward, town and borough can stand for office.”