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Doors slam shut on clerk's career

IN A TOWN where members of the Green Party hold sway, Sandra Ashenford, clerk to Stroud parish council, has paid a heavy price for her part in trying to stop vandals despoiling a chapel of rest in the town's cemetery.

Wrath descended on her when it was discovered that the chapel's new protective doors had been made from tropical hardwood.

This proved a serious matter in a town which returned 11 Green councillors at the last election. The Greens, vociferous protectors of threatened tropical hardwood forests, comprise the biggest group on the council and some have given Mrs Ashenford such a hard time she has quit her pounds 15,000 a year job.

In her letter of resignation, she wrote: 'I have been the victim of a campaign to undermine my personality. I feel this is an unacceptable intrusion.'

One conservationist, Ron Birch, produced a five-page document denouncing the doors, which he circulated to all 24 councillors and local media.

The town mayor, Jill Ingham, also a Green, said: 'He felt it was an example of the inadequate fumbling progress of this particular council . . . that we had a policy of using tropical hardwoods . . . and that there is no such thing as a renewable resource.'

Mrs Ingham said of Mrs Ashenford: 'She has been with us two and half years and worked extremely hard. I respect her reasons for going.

'There are people on this council who see these things in black and white; that no tropical hardwood should be used from any source. Some enjoy playing political games. There are others who don't give a toss whether we use orange boxes, oak or anything.'

Mrs Ashenford said: 'The doors on the chapel of rest have been an issue. But one group of councillors wanted a go at one another, Greens and non-Greens, and I became piggy in the middle.'