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Council caretaker in 'catgate' resigns over “final straw” moggie decision


A member of staff at Tewkesbury Town Council has resigned in protest at its decision to ban a cat from its headquarters. The authority made national headlines earlier this year when it emerged it planned to ban Missy from the town hall in High Street. She lives nearby and had made a habit of popping in since the summer of last year. But some councillors have ruled that she poses a health and safety risk and ordered the staff not to let her in. That has angered them because they were fond of her and argued that she improved morale. They even took to calling her their ‘morale officer’ on the council’s website.

The ban was formally confirmed last month when staff were informed of members’ decision in writing. A special panel of councillors had been set up and produced a report. Now the matter, which attracted criticism from people who felt the council must have had better things to be doing, has escalated. The authority’s caretaker, Dave Bowers, has resigned - saying the ban was the “final straw” for him. He said: “The business over the cat was the final straw. It’s childish. They’ve had dogs in the office before. I don’t see what difference a cat makes. It cheers everyone in the office up. “I find it all a bit ridiculous so it’s time to leave.” The 51-year-old, who had done the job for nearly three years, said Missy was not keeping staff from doing their work - as some councillors had suggested might be the case.

He added that the ban had been impossible to implement on Fridays because a market was held in the hall and Missy was able to walk in through open doors. He said: “I was not going to get physical with the animal.” It was his belief that the ban was more about controlling staff than protecting people from a cat. Dave said the row over Missy was not the only reason for his departure.

Other frustrations with the job included never being made to feel welcome by certain councillors and being given conflicting instructions. “I had certain councillors telling me to do one thing and others saying I should be doing another thing,” he said. For the council, town mayor Councillor Peggy Clatworthy said: "Dave has been a really good worker and a pleasant person to have around. We're really sorry to lose him."