'Pumpkingate' Mayor has the last laugh

SHE could be forgiven for never wanting to hear another word about pumpkins.

But the new mayor of Morley hasn't had her fill of them just yet, if the latest twist in the town's 'pumpkin-gate' saga is anything to go by.

Coun Shirley Varley was reported to standards watchdogs for allegedly taking a sweet-filled pumpkin-shaped toy that was left over after a council-backed children's Halloween party.

She was cleared of breaking conduct rules before being voted into office last week as Mayor of Morley.

And Coun Varley has wasted no time in announcing that her main mayoral fundraising effort will be called .... The Pumpkin Appeal.

The appeal will benefit young people's causes in the Morley area.

Coun Varley, who sits on Morley Town Council and represents the Morley Borough Independents political party, said she had picked its name to try to draw a good-natured line under the pumpkin row.

She told the Yorkshire Evening Post: "I was extremely upset about it at the beginning, but I have now moved on and taken something positive from it."

Coun Varley was reported to Leeds City Council's standards committee by Paul Cockcroft, a community campaigner who helped organise the Morley Town Hall party at the centre of 'pumpkin-gate'.

He claimed he had suggested donating the surplus toy and its contents to a local youth club.

But, he says, he later discovered that retired teacher Coun

Varley had taken it to a family wedding.

The Morley Borough Independents maintained they had paid for the paper pumpkin and so were entitled to hand it over to Coun Varley as a gift.

Asked today about the appeal name, Mr Cockcroft said he wished the new mayor all the best with her fundraising.

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