|The newly-built Public Hall of New Mills, paid for by local business and public subscription|
The 41st annual meeting of New Mills town council will be held on Tuesday 27 May 2014, at 7:30 in the evening.
The meeting format is the same as any town council meeting, except that at the start of the meeting the Chair and Vice-chair of the council are elected for the forthcoming year.
In a memorable - for all the wrong reasons - previous annual meeting the then town clerk Mrs Susan Stevens chaired the start of the council meeting*. This was and is against the law: only a member of the council can chair a council meeting.
We understand that this particular law-breaking inside the New Mills council chamber came about because Cllr Alistair Stevens and Mrs Stevens had personally fallen out with the elected councillor* who, under the law, was required to chair the start of the meeting.
The first thing of note about this year's annual council meeting is that there is no 'Confidential' section. Unless a councillor asks for any items to be heard in secret, and the law permits those items to be heard without the public present, the whole meeting is expected to be in public.
Appointing the council’s representatives to outside bodies is an early important item of business on the annual meeting agenda.
This year, this item will be of greater public interest than usual because the New Mills Higher Educational Trust is one of the outside bodies. This registered charity’s affairs went badly wrong (see previous HPT articles) after the appointments to the charity of councillor Alistair Stevens and ex-councillor Steve Sharp, with ex-town clerk Susan Stevens as the charity’s principal point of contact.
In due course it might be wise to examine the arrangements for Trickett and Bowdens Charity and/or Poor’s Land and Ouff’s Charity. Price inflation over the years has not been kind to the financial structure of these two charities, which were set up when £2 a week was a decent working wage. Not even Ed Miliband thinks the cost of living is £2 a week.
While on the subject of financial house-keeping, Agenda Item 18 should properly refer to Asset Register - all councils are required by law to maintain an accurate and up-to-date Asset Register.
Two other agenda items that are relevant to the ongoing recovery from the recent serious town hall crisis in New Mills are appointment of a solicitor to act for the council, and an internal auditor likewise.
The Employment Tribunal hearing of the cases of the two employees recently dismissed from the town council for gross misconduct was scheduled for early June, but has been postponed. As soon as we hear the new date, it will be published here on High Peak Transparency.
* The town council's Annual Meeting held on 16 May 2011. The elected councillor unlawfully usurped from chairing the start of the meeting by the then town clerk Mrs Stevens was Chantal Hannell.