OSWESTRY town councillors' decision to not fund a domestic abuse support programme in the town is a 'sad failure of leadership', according to its mayor.

Councillor Duncan Kerr put forward a motion at Wednesday's full meeting for Oswestry Town Council to award £10,000 of Covid-19 funding for West Mercia Women's Aid (WMWA) to train ambassadors for the 'Ask Me' project, and become a 'white ribbon' organisation.

However, Cllr Kerr's motion was defeated 12-5, with many councillors lauding the mayor's motives, but felt it would set the wrong precedent to other charities in the town.

Cllr Kerr, who represents the Green Party, said: “This outcome shows a very sad failure of leadership.

The money to fund these vital programmes was available within the council budget for Covid-19. As reported by the charity Refuge, calls to national abuse headlines rose by a staggering 80 per cent in June making it is a clear Covid-19 issue.

"Domestic abuse can affect both men and women and the failure of the council to fund these services at a time when existing organisations are facing over-whelming demand will mean that victims in Oswestry are less likely to receive the help they so desperately need.”

The matter was subject to a lively debate in the council's latest full meeting – held remotely – with Cllr Chris Schofield explaining his reason for voting against.

He said: "It is great you fight for this charity.

"But the government have been making money available for this and it is unfair on other charities.

"We have all had our charities [as mayor] and I know it’s been difficult for you, but we may need that money if there is a second wave.

"On this occasion I cannot back you – I am sorry."

Cllr Vince Hunt told the mayor he would also not back the motion and that he took issue with the plans on the grounds that he felt they were heavily weighted towards protecting women, when domestic violence is an issue that can affect everybody.

Another former mayor, Cllr Sandy Best, highlighted that Cllr Kerr had already donated his mayoral expenses to the charity and suggested that WMWA apply for a grant.

This call was was echoed by other councillors, including Cllr Kerr's predecessor Cllr John Price, while Cllr Paul Milner stated he had concerns about the sustainability of the money.

Cllr Kerr addressed the issues raised, stating the money was not a charity donation but funding a project for one year – addressing Cllr Milner's sustainability fears – and told Cllr Hunt that while he agreed domestic abuse affected men and women, it was the latter who suffered the extreme end of abuse.

However, his motion was defeated.