The ‘former parish councillor’ who argued (LFP 20.3.12) that the ‘day of the parish council is long gone’ seems to us to have a case.
Readers of both the Spalding Guardian and the Lincolnshire Free Press will have noticed reports of goings-on in Moulton, Holbeach, Pinchbeck, Long Sutton and in recent years, we know from personal experience about infringements of democratic procedure and ‘turmoil’ (SG 1.7.10) in Sutton Bridge.
It is obvious from newspaper reports and from our personal experience that far from conducting proceedings with openness and transparency, many parish council decisions take place behind closed doors with little or no public discussion and any public objections or questioning are described as ‘time wasting’.
On one occasion in Sutton Bridge, members of the public who tried to make reasonable arguments were told to ‘put up or shut up’.
It now transpires that the council tax payers of Sutton Bridge are facing an unexplained 48.2 per cent increase in council tax payment for 2012/2013.
When Coun Dewsbury proposed the new precept charge he said: “We’ve got so many things in hand that have got to be paid for” (SG 8.12.11) and Coun Brewis said that “the council had to make sure it was to move forward with all of its projects” (SG 8.12.11).
However, it has yet to be made clear what the ‘things’/projects are.
We are not, of course, suggesting that the increase has anything to do with the settlement of the tribunal brought against the council by their former clerk.
On the other hand, Coun Brandon-King did say at the last parish council meeting that the amount of the settlement would be “masked in the accounts”. (LFP 6.3.12)
Coun Joan Atkinson (Lutton PC: letter in LFP 20.3.12) is quite right when she said “parish councillors do not have any more power than people are prepared to let them get away with” and “if you don’t attend meetings to let them feel your presence, they will do what they want”.
It has been said to us (in the public gallery) that “we (parish councillors) can do what we like”.
Either parish councils have had their day or it’s about time that people started to question the antics and motives of parish councillors.
Colin and Janet Blundell