COMMENT: Monty Python meets Dibley

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THE following may sound like a joke – but it’s a true story that happened at a parish council meeting in Holbeach on Monday evening:

A man walks into an open forum and asks to speak, but is told he cannot unless he gives his address. After some debate it is decided he can speak, only for the man to shout: “Cover up.”

He is asked to leave, refuses and then encourages councillors to call the police. The operator asks if the man is violent. “Are you violent?,” asks a councillor. “I’m a nutter, “ he replies. “He says he’s a nutter,” the police are told.

The police arrive and the man leaves without fuss.

But wait, the joke’s not finished. Six councillors then slap down resignations when a vote regarding the new clerk doesn’t go their way... and out they walk.

The whole things seems like the result of the producers of the Vicar of Dibley and Monty Python getting together to produce a Children in Need special after having a few too many drinks.

Although you may have sympathy with the council as a whole over the initial outburst, the resignations were ridiculous, especially as they were over a sensitive point that could not be discussed in an open meeting.

It is all too common in our parish councils recently that a forum where a group of sensible individuals are supposed to be representing their fellow residents ends up into an arena of backbiting and bickering.

Take the rows over the community centre and the marina project in Sutton Bridge discussed on this very page.

Or the farce at Long Sutton, where the parish council was branded “unprofessional and childish” after a councillor unsuccessfully tried to prise information from his own council by submitting two Freedom of Information requests against them.

And let’s not forget Moulton, where rows and bitterness have been going on for years. Only last week we reported that a councillor had resigned due to the hostility of the public, and in my mail box this morning I have two new letters castigating said councillor.

It really is ridiculous and something I have not encountered in parish councils in other areas I have worked.

For goodness’ sake sort yourselves out and start doing the duties you were voted in to do.