13 May 2015

New Mills Annual Parish Meeting - All Welcome - Venue Correction Announced

Following a minor fuss about the idea of shifting the location of the public's Annual Parish Meeting, it has now been announced on the town council website that the meeting venue has reverted to the traditional and correct one of the Public Hall of New Mills.

The Public Hall is upstairs at the town hall, accessible from either Aldersgate behind the town hall (where it is at ground level) or from the front of the town hall where it is to be found up the stairs from the double doors at the base of the clock tower.

The Annual Parish Meeting of New Mills will be held on Friday 29 May 2015 at 7.30pm

11 May 2015

Upcoming Statutory Annual Meetings Concerning Public Business In New Mills

Taken from New Mills Town Council website is the following statement:

"The next Full Council meeting will be held on Monday 18th May at 7.30pm in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, New Mills."

Here is some further information:

Every town/parish council in England must hold an Annual Meeting in May every year. The first business of that meeting must be to elect the chair and vice-chair for the upcoming year.

In an election year this annual meeting must take place on the day when the councillors take office, or within fourteen days thereafter.  18 May 2015 meets this legal requirement.

Because only six councillors were elected at the election on 7 May 2015, there are now six vacancies to be filled.  It is to be hoped this important piece of business will be treated as a matter of urgency, priority and seriousness.

The quorum for New Mills town council is four (i.e. three or one-third of the total membership of twelve, whichever number is the greater).

The outgoing chair and vice-chair are entitled to attend an annual council meeting; indeed one of them is needed to chair the annual council meeting until the new chair and vice chair are appointed from among the council members.

The practice whereby proceedings at first annual meetings after an election are opened with the paid clerk in the chair is unlawful.  (Viz. Miss/Mrs/Ms Susan Stevens illegally usurping elected councillor and Chair of the council Chantal Hannell during the NMTC annual meeting of May 2011)

Taken from New Mills Town Council website is the following statement:

"The Annual Parish meeting will be held on Friday 29th May at 7.30pm in the Library Lecture Room, Town Hall, New Mills." *

Public money was used to construct the Public Hall of New Mills.  It was built specifically for this kind of purpose - the public's meetings etc.  Public money is used to maintain the Public Hall of New Mills.

Why then is the public being shut away and confined to this other dingy, pokey little space?

This is a serious sign of disrespect for the public;  the public that pays the bills and that councillors are supposed to serve.

* Since this article was originally published the location has been changed back to the Public Hall of New Mills.

09 May 2015

New Mills Town Council Election Results

In Whitle ward the votes for each candidate were as follows:

DOWSON, Lance   1,136

ATKINS, Ray   968

WHEWELL, Sean   885

BATE,  Barry  756

GASKELL, Josh   756

The above five candidates are elected to the five seats provided by Whitle ward to New Mills town council.

The other candidates' votes were as follows:

LAWTON, Jeff   750

GARSIDE, Kath   727

FERNS, John   636

LAMB, David   511

For the two town council seats from Thormsett ward ASHTON, Tony was elected unopposed.  He was the only candidate.

Ollersett ward provides another five seats on the council.  There were no candidates for this ward.

Notices will be published by the Returning Officer in due course explaining the mechanism (co-option or a further election) by which these six vacant seats will be filled.

When these vacancies are filled, the town council will have twelve members.

08 May 2015

Borough Council Results for New Mills

The Returning Officer has just published the following election results for the New Mills seats on High Peak Borough Council:

Elected for New Mills West ward:

ATKINS, Raymond


Elected for New Mills East ward:


HUDDLESTONE, Dishonest Ian

Elected for New Mills Sett ward:


As at the time of writing (early evening 8 May 2015), no New Mills Town Council results have been publicly declared by the Returning Officer.

Here is the link to the live election declarations page authorised by the Returning Officer:



Meanwhile, a photograph from one of the election counts elsewhere in the country:

07 May 2015

New Mills Arts Theatre - An Appeal

HPT has been sent the link to a current important appeal from New Mills Arts Theatre, with a request to add support and publicity, which we are delighted to do.

The Arts Theatre is  not asking for your money (although donations etc are always helpful, obviously) they are merely asking for your name on an e-petition.

The link to their e-petition is a at the bottom of this article.

Here is the text of their appeal:


"We want them to support Arts In New Mills, we have been unsuccessful in applications to both the Heritage Lottery fund and the Arts Council, One of the big problems is that we are not in a conservation area which make our theatre less attractive for funding

"The conservation areas runs down the front of the theatre (Jodrell Street) and the side of the theatre ( Wood Street) but the theatre misses out. We want the council to increase the conservation area to protect the theatre and the heritage of performing arts in the town as a whole.

"We would also like assistance with current grants and funding streams where applicable to our organisation.

"The theatre is run as a registered charity and is manned solely by volunteers providing a fantastic resource for the whole community

"Why is this important?

"The Theatre has been in New Mills since it was opened in June 1911 and has served the local community since then. The theatre provides live entertainment on a regular basis and provide home to the local operatic society, who have performed in the building since 1922 and our newly formed youth theatre Take Part in the Art which provide theatrical training and performance skills for 5 - 18 years.

"It also showcases every year for the last 30 Yrs New Mills Dance and Theatre Centre who have just won the AKA Seniors Ballet Competition for the seveth year in a row. Without external funding to support the buildings upkeep and urgent repair bills sadly the theatre future looks uncertain.

"How it will be delivered

"This petition will be sent via the usual channels to all the local mp and councils following the completion of the election"

Here is the link to the Petition and Campaign Site:


A Right of Reply

The following has been received from local figure Sean Whewell.  It is in response to (mostly anonymous) comments sent in to HPT on the subject of the intersection between Mr Whewell's candidature in today's election and the Visit New Mills campaign group.

Incidentally, regarding any comments sent in to HPT, it is obvious that an anonymous comment or criticism will usually carry only a fraction of the impact and weight of any comment with a real name attached.

Here is Mr Whewell's email, received earlier today:

"Dear Editor and anonymous contributors,

"Some interesting comments in the past 24 hours, please allow me the time to educate the small minority.

"The 'Love New Mills' logo (that is what it is known as to those that use it) is used extensively throughout New Mills to promote New Mills, both via Visit New Mills and via the many people who give up so much time to improve our town and via the merchandise sold to raise funds for New Mills groups and events - it was reproduced with kind permission of its creator Karl Sinfield.

"The factual leaflet produced is paid for out of my pocket and is documented in the return all candidates have to send in outlining any election expenses.

"Any donations to Visit New Mills or from Visit New Mills to other groups are fully documented and minuted and are via ‘bank account’ transactions i.e. no cash transactions.

"The recent kind donation from NMTC is to be used towards purchasing additional Christmas lights on Union Road and towards replacing the flags that fly during the festival periods (Carnival, One World Festival, New Mills festival etc) – the previous set and the poles are missing.

"Visit New Mills is not a political party, it doesn’t need to be. Visit New Mills works extensively with all groups in New Mills helping promote and fund raise for events, the group also meet regularly with council groups to raise awareness of our town's needs, and we would always welcome new members, even anonymous ones.

"A role of town councillor is a voluntary position, one of trust, integrity and hard work - those that have been councillors will tell you the number of hours needed to serve your town properly, the same goes for any volunteer position in the groups that make New Mills such a great place (Art Theatre, New Mills Festival, New Mills Carnival, New Mills Heritage Centre) - the only reason I wish to continue as a town councillor is for the benefit of New Mills, that should be the case for all candidates.

"The anonymous keyboard warrior would be better to use their energy volunteering for one of these groups or events and give something back to New Mills or alternatively come and speak to me so I can cover off any other concerns they may have.

"Finally, many thanks to the many ‘unanonymous’ texts, emails and phone calls over the past few weeks and I look forward to seeing some of you at tonight’s ‘Quizit New Mills’ at The Pride of the Peaks.

Sean Whewell"

30 April 2015

Does This Small Print Tell A Story?

Are the changes in the small print on the recent Jeff and Josh election leaflets significant?

All of the leaflets have 'High Peak Conservatives' written on them.

However, in chronological order, here is what the small print says at the bottom of each leaflet:

The first Jeff and Josh 'In Touch' leaflet, the one containing the false statement that the Heritage Centre is under threat, is promoted by Jamie Douglas on behalf of Jeff Lawton and Josh Gaskell.  It is printed by NWCC of 14b Winsford Square, West Ashton St, Salford M50 2SN

The second Jeff and Josh leaflet, not an 'In Touch' leaflet this time, is promoted by Steve Foote on behalf of Jeff Lawton and Josh Gaskell. It is printed by Leafletfrog, 38-39 Britannia Way, Bolton BL2 2HH.

The third Jeff and Josh 'In Touch' leaflet, the one containing the false statements (among others) that High Lee Hall is rotting from the upstairs down, and that the New Mills town hall clock hasn't worked for a year and a half, didn't have a third party promoting it.  This one says 'Promoted by Jeff Lawton and and Josh Gaskell on behalf of Jeff Lawton , Josh Gaskell, Kath Garside and John Ferns.  Printed by HGCCA, 119b Church Lane, Marple SK6 7AY.

Just a curiosity, worth pointing out for its rarity value: it is not normal for a local party's three pieces of literature to have to be published by three separate, different promoters during the course of one short election period.

29 April 2015

Council Response To False Statements From Candidates 'Jeff And Josh' About High Lee Hall

Following the publication of the latest New Mills election leaflet on behalf of the Conservative Party (see previous HPT article), the following email has been received from the chair of New Mills Town Council.

As an independent observer at the last town council meeting, HPT editor can verify that this email accurately reflects the views expressed by New Mills councillors during that council meeting.

Indeed, the email is very mild compared to the justified disgust and outrage from some councillors at the malicious lies peddled by Jeff Lawton and Josh Gaskell in their Conservative leaflet.

Here is the email, verbatim:

"Could you please publish the content of this email on your site.

"I would like to invite any member of the public, to view the upper floor of High Lee Hall. All they need do is ring the Clerk on 01663 743434,  and a member of staff or Councillor, will be delighted to show them round.

"It is fair to say that as a Council Building which is owned and maintained with the money raised through the Council Tax, that New Mills Town Council has a duty to make good use of the building, but it has to be in a fit for purpose condition which it is.

"The Hall has had some major work done on it to bring it up to letting standards over the last 3 - 4 years. The guttering and roof problems were addressed and put into good order. The electrical installation has been completed to bring it up to required standards. The rooms have been painted in a neutral colour. There is a new kitchen installed. The floors have been boarded which are now ready to be carpeted. There is a series of newly installed CCTV cameras at the site, safeguarding the property & the grounds for all that either work there or just enjoy the area, especially for the many attractions that the Park has to offer, including the newly installed play equipment, which makes High Lea Park, one of the premier attractions in the High Peak for outdoor facilities.

"All this was carried out by the Parks Team and contractors, who are very proud of their work, and were praised by the Council and its Officers.

"Following all this work, the upper floor has been in the Letting Agents hands  for close on 12 months now. There has been some viewings of the Hall which will hopefully lead to a tenant being in place very shortly.

"Finally not forgetting that the Hall’s ground floor is occupied by High Peak Community Arts, and their details and work can be found on the Web.

"Thanking you for your time,

David Ian Lamb
New Mills Town councillor / Chair of the Council"

HPT screenshot of the letting agent's website current particulars for High Lee Hall's upper floors (Wright Marshall, Buxton office)

28 April 2015

A Candidate With Serious Public Interest Questions To Answer

The latest ‘In Touch’ Conservative election leaflet for New Mills has arrived.

It is the third in the ‘Adventures of Jeff and Josh’ series.

This one is headed ‘New Mills Town Council Special’.  It has a picture of three candidates posing in front of High Lee Hall’s portico.  The three are Jeff Lawton, Josh Gaskell and Kath Garside.

Strangely enough, the recent prominent Conservative Party recruit - discredited soon to be ex-councillor Alistair Stevens of New Mills - does not feature in the literature.

Further Adventures of Jeff and Josh

Firstly, here is the text under the leaflet heading ‘Jeff and Josh putting New Mills first’:

“It is time for change.  Jeff and Josh believe in putting money back into the local pocket.

“Whether that be lower charges on small businesses or reducing taxes on local residents.

“The last council administration has left New Mills in a mess.

“High Lee Hall is rotting from the upstairs down. pavements and footpaths are crumbling away, and the town hall clock hasn't worked for as year and a half.

“Many of the town hall staff are disenchanted.

“New Mills deserves better.”

High Lee Hall 

Secondly, here is the text of the High Lee Hall part of the leaflet:

“Candidates plan new hope for High Lee Hall

“Kath, Jeff and Josh are keen to see High Lee Hall put to better use.

“The hall has been neglected by the council for far too long.

“Kath said ‘I spent much of my early life living at High Lee Hall - it is a great shame to see it in its current neglected state.’

“Conservative ideas include converting the upper floors of the hall into office accommodation to be rented out, both to keep the building in use and to provide an income for its upkeep.

“Your conservative candidates are investigating the possibility of providing a refreshment kiosk, staffed by volunteers, to cater for the many people who enjoy the park at weekends.”

So what is wrong with the above High Lee Hall part of the leaflet?  Nothing.  That is why the New Mills town council has already done the necessary refurbishment of the upstairs accommodation and placed it on the property lettings market with agents Wright Marshall.

Here is the link to the current High Lee Hall property marketing details

A Fit and Proper Councillor?

A very troublesome subject, on which Jeff and Josh are uncharacteristically silent, is Jeff Lawton’s active support of the dishonesty and incompetence that was until recently being carried on inside the town clerk's office in New Mills town hall.

This was happening under the regime of Mr Lawton’s personal friend, the former town clerk Susan Stevens who was sacked for gross misconduct.

Furthermore, Mr Lawton recently deliberately lied about the New Mills Heritage Centre. He stated that the town council was going to close the Heritage Centre.  Mr Lawton knew both that no such decision had either been made or was even up for consideration on any town council meeting agenda.

Finally, Mr Lawton has still not accounted for the missing £2,500 of the public's money that he was unwisely given temporary custody of (see previous HPT articles).

Mr Lawton, where is the money?  Answer please.

So, in the light of all the hard, published evidence on these issues, is Mr Jeff Lawton a fit and proper person to be a councillor representing the town of New Mills?