PEOPLE will no longer be able to speak freely at a public forum after councillors agreed that all topics must be vetted beforehand.
At the January meeting of Holbeach Parish Council, vice-chairman Coun Graham Warrender read out a statement in response to a complaint regarding a member of the council’s staff.
During the public forum in November a derogatory letter regarding park keeper Tony Walker and his wife Loraine was read out.
Coun Warrender said: “Everyone was under the impression the member of the public was making a general complaint against the council.”
Speaking after this month’s meeting, Mrs Walker said: “We were very upset by this as we have always tried to do our best for the community and we took legal advice to stop this person repeating any further derogatory comments.
“The parish council agreed that this public denouncement should have been stopped at the time and apologised to us both. We received a letter from them saying the same.”
The parish council has now implemented the following rules for the public forum:
lNo member of the public can address the meeting unless previously invited to do so and the contents of their announcement have been checked beforehand by the clerk;
lCouncil and sub committee meetings will stick to agendas and no supplementary activities allowed;
lAny complaints or other correspondence which a member of the public wishes to present to the council must be submitted via the clerk
lNo reference must be made to any named employee of the council in open session.
Mrs Walker added: “If anyone has personal issues with another there are proper channels to go through and parish council meetings are not the places to publicise personal vendettas.”