A COMMUNITY hero has been left disillusioned by his failed attempt to become a councillor.

Tony Curry, also known as Mr Roundabout, attended a meeting of Cirencester Town Council earlier this month in the hope of being chosen to fill a vacancy on the authority.

Mr Curry, who is a former town and district councillor and has lived in Cirencester for 42 years, is known as Mr Roundabout because he cuts some of the grass on verges and roundabouts in the town for free.

He was in the news in 2015 when his trailer was stolen while he was cutting the grass on a roundabout and the community raised money for a replacement.

When a vacancy recently arose on the town council, he put his name forward and was told a new councillor would be co-opted – chosen by serving councillors – instead of a public vote.

He was asked to attend a council meeting and give a five minute presentation about himself and why he was a suitable candidate.

“As soon as I attended the meeting, I could tell something was not quite right as councillors I have known for years would not make eye contact with me,” Tony said.

“I gave my speech and told them how I had lived in the town for 42 years, I spoke about my Mr Roundabout and how I desperately wanted to get involved and help Cirencester move forward.

“I reassured them that despite being a Conservative Party member I would work in the best interests of the town without complicated political views.

“When I finished my speech, the other candidate joked ‘how do I follow that?’ and he then went on to tell the council that he had recently moved from Somerset to South Cerney, did not really know Cirencester that well but that he was an experienced former Lib Dem councillor.

“All I can say about what happened next is that Cirencester Town Council currently has 11 Lib Dems and two Independents, and that I lost the selection process by 11 votes to two.”

The new councillor chosen was Andrew Jopp.

Leader of the Conservative Group on Cotswold District Council, Cllr Richard Morgan, was shocked by Tony’s experience.

“I am sure the Lib Dems on Cirencester Town Council will argue that the best candidate won, but this whole process absolutely stinks at a time when we are trying to attract and energise more people to get involved in local government,” he said.

“The vacancy on the town council was barely publicised and Tony only heard via word of mouth, which is concerning. Another worry is the lack of a visible public election for a contested seat which is unhealthy and undemocratic”.

A spokesman for Cirencester Town Council said: “Following the local elections in May 2019, there was one ward in which only one candidate stood for election. This meant that there was a vacancy which was required to be filled by co-option.

“At its meeting in May, the town council agreed the process for co-option in accordance with previous co-options, which was by way of expressions of interest and a five minute presentation on being a local councillor.

“The council published information about this opportunity and how to apply via social media, our website and local notice boards. Various members of the public enquired about the opportunity and two submitted formal expressions of interest and attended the meeting.”