Skipton Mayor John Kerwin-Davey has resigned in what is believed to be the first mayoral resignation for the town council.

Coun John Kerwin-Davey resigned immediately after Thursday’s full council meeting over an apparent disagreement on staffing issues.

As chairman of the meeting, he asked for officers to leave during a discussion on the staffing review and possible increases in salary, but his request went unsupported by other councillors.

His resignation meant he did not attend Sunday’s annual civic service at Holy Trinity Church, which was forced to go ahead with other councillors and the council’s chief officer stepping into the breach.

It also means a vacancy in the council’s Skipton North ward and the possibility of an expensive by-election – unless the seat is filled by co-opting a new member.

Coun Kerwin-Davey said he had been left with no choice but to resign after his authority as chairman had been undermined.

The staffing item, listed on the agenda as a review of arrangements and excluded from the public and press because of confidentiality, was adjourned after Coun Kerwin-Davey called an end to the meeting and left.

In a letter to the Herald, Coun Kerwin-Davey, who remains a member of Craven District Council, said it was with a ‘heavy heart’ that he had resigned from the town council.

“It is not possible to remain as chairman without the fullest support of members and acceptance by both staff and members of the authority of the chairman of the meeting.

“It is for this reason, and with a heavy heart, that I resign from the town council having failed the people who voted me into office,” he said.

Coun Kerwin-Davey claimed the review included an “unprecedented” 12 per cent increase in staff pay.

“As chairman, I ruled that it would be inappropriate for staff to remain in the meeting and perhaps influence the decision making process and decision,” he said.

“The staff refused to concur with the ruling from the chair and solidly remained in place. Politically motivated councillors failed to support me and I had no option but to bring the meeting to a premature close.”

A spokesman for the town council confirmed that it had received Coun Kerwin-Davey’s formal resignation and that his place would be taken by the deputy, Coun John Dawson.

“Coun Dawson will chair any meetings of the full council until members can elect another town mayor in due course. He will undertake any mayoral duties scheduled for this period, with assistance from other members where appropriate.”

The council did not want to comment on Coun Kerwin-Davey’s comments regarding increases in staff pay.

A notice of the casual vacancy was issued on Tuesday, giving local electors up to 14 working days in which to request an election to fill the vacancy. If no such request is received, the council will fill the vacancy by co-option.