17 December 2015

Notice of Councillor Vacancy on New Mills Town Council Website




HPT Readers' Christmas Competition


The following legal notice, placed on New Mills Town Council's website on or about 15 December 2015, contains an error.  Can you spot it?

(scroll right down to the bottom of the page for the answer)



NOTICE OF VACANCY

NEW MILLS COUNCIL-WHITLE WARD

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN THAT DUE TO THE RESIGNATION OF A COUNCILLOR, A VACANCY HAS ARISEN IN THE OFFICE OF COUNCILLOR FOR THE PARISH COUNCIL.

IF BY JANUARY 2016 (14 DAYS EXCLUDING DIES NON,AFTER THE DATE OF THIS NOTICE) A REQUEST FOR AN ELECTION TO FILL SAID VACANCY IS MADE IN WRITING TO THE RETURNING OFFICER AT THE ADDRESS BELOW BY TEN ELECTORS FOR THE SAID PARISH, AN ELECTION WILL BE HELD TO FILL THE SAID VACANCY,OTHERWISE THE VACANCY WILL BE FILLED BY CO-OPTION. IF AN ELECTION IS CALLED IT WILL TAKE PLACE NOT LATER THAN 11th MARCH 2016.

DATED 15th DECEMBER 2015

SIMON BAKER
RETURNING OFFICER
MUNICIPAL BUILDING
GLOSSOP
DERBYSHIRE
SK13 8AF











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Answer:

The correct notice gives the specific date in January 2016 which is the deadline for electors to write in if they want a by-election.

The version on the NMTC website* merely says "IF BY JANUARY 2016..."

(This article published at 15:35 on 17 December 2015.  Hopefully the Notice on NMTC website will be rectified shortly afterwards)

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UPDATE

*Upon checking the NMTC website again on the day after the above article was published, the specific deadline date has been added to the notice, making it correct. The deadline for any ten electors from ex-cllr Gaskell's ward to demand a public by-election rather than allow the council to co-opt is 8 January 2015.



24 November 2015

Casual Vacancy at New Mills Town Council




We understand that Josh Gaskell has resigned from New Mills Town Council.

Assuming this information given to HPT is not a hoax, the vacancy will be notified to the public by the returning officer at High Peak Borough Council.

If ten electors in Mr Gaskell's ward demand a by-election then one will be held.  If ten electors do not come forward then New Mills Town Council will go through a co-option process.

Seasonal note:  the bickering over the last NMTC co-options has not even ceased, and they were in the summer.  In four weeks' time it will be the winter solstice.

To quote Bob Cratchit, who so far as is known has not stood for New Mills town council, "a Merry Christmas to you, sir!"

12 November 2015

Is this two bald men fighting over a comb?


As a public service, the following two comments, anonymously received by this website in the last 24 hours, are published.

The reason for publication is for local council taxpayers to see the extent and the costs of the internal strife currently within New Mills Town Council:

"The Chair does NOT take advice from the Clerk! If he did the Council would not be in the mess that it is in especially regarding the cooption process and all the nonsense that has occurred since.  He may be ok running visit new mills but he's shown, by his actions or inactions, that he is no good running the Council."

"The clerk is constantly undermining the chairs authority, she apparently didn't even tell him she had summonsed David lamb as a councillor, which he is not, to last Mondays meeting, she should be working with the chair not against him. It maybe time for her to go for the good of new mills. She has no loyalty or connection to the town."


There is no need for this problem.  But it is being continued ad nauseum by two factions on the council, neither of whom seem prepared to give way on this matter.

If neither the Chair nor the town clerk/proper officer is going to leave the council, or is going to give way on this specific issue, then is there any other practical solution than now obtaining the expert opinion of paid legal counsel (barrister) specialising in town/parish council law?

The issue is:  Is David Lamb a member of New Mills Town Council?

Both sides should put their own arguments independently, in writing, to the same specialist counsel. The town council's solicitor would find the appropriate barrister to give the independent opinion.

If possible, both sides should agree in advance to abide by counsel's opinion.  Even if that is not possible, then the counsel's expert opinion should still be sought by the council.

If the losing side is not prepared to give way after receiving counsel's expert opinion, then  they would lose all credibility. The winning side would then be able to go to the court, if the losing side is not prepared to give way, and seek an Order that Mr David Lamb is or isn't a councillor (according to which of those two positions has expert counsel's opinion on its side).

Alternatively, a new simple co-option (or election) of one councillor should now take place, with the council ward specified in advance.  The mechanism of this would need the approval of High Peak Borough Council.

It has already been six months since the local elections that gave rise to this situation.

How much longer is this paralysis of New Mills Town Council's public business - expensively paid for by the local council taxpayers - going to go on?

In this situation, there are costs of doing nothing.









10 November 2015

The Business of New Mills Town Council





New Mills Town Council ('NMTC') takes in over £300,000 of public money every year.  The editor of High Peak Transparency is just one of thousands of council tax payers in the town - in HPT Ed's case to the tune of almost £1,000 this year.  Many people who read this site are in the same position, sometimes with higher council tax bills.  All the town councillors bar one are in the same position.

Having placed the above central facts on the record, what follows is a neutral description of what happened at last night's duly convened New Mills town council meeting.

Councillors, public, and council officers assembled in the council chamber in time for the 7:30 pm meeting start time.

Cllr Sean Whewell, the chair of the council, opened the meeting by welcoming councillors and the public.

David Lamb interrupted as soon as Cllr Whewell started speaking.  Cllr Whewell told him to wait until the public participation section.  This is when councillors and the public can speak on all matters that are both on and not on that meeting's agenda.

The public participation section is always very near the start of every council meeting.

David Lamb would not wait.  He interrupted the chairman and said that the meeting was illegal.  The basis of this assertion was not stated, or at least was not heard by this observer.

A slightly worrying fact here is that the copy of Arnold Baker on Local Council Administration with David Lamb's papers was an out of date edition.  Only time will tell if this proves to be relevant to whatever the issue was.

The council meeting being unable to continue in an orderly fashion, the chair suspended the meeting.

Sean Whewell and David Lamb then went outside the chamber.  The council's town clerk/proper officer went with them. David Lamb came back and asked for witnesses to what was happening, and Cllr Rebecca Harman and a member of the public went out in response to this.  Cllr Barry Bate followed later.

At 7:57 pm the town clerk/proper officer came back in, collected her papers, and went out again.

At 8;07, Cllr Sara Atherton said, in broad terms, that there is a dispute here and it needs resolving. What is happening is both impractical and is disrespectful to the public.

HPT Ed adds that a large part of the council's business is effectively paralysed.

At 8:11 Cllr Whewell came in the chamber and stated that David Lamb has left the building.  The town clerk/proper officer has left the building.  There is a council meeting scheduled for 17 November, and this agenda will be carried over.

At 8:20, after various informal interactions between the public and councillors, the get-together was over.


Did I mention that New Mills Town Council ('NMTC') takes in over £300,000 of public money every year?


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Note re comments:  Anonymous comments that are abusive are unlikely to be published.  Anonymous comments that make dubious assertions are unlikely to be published.  The best way to guarantee getting a point published is to provide your name.  Either put it on the comment itself, or make the comment anonymously while emailing HPT letting us know who is making that particular comment. If you ask for anonymity then your name will not be published.

email address:  highpeaktransparency@btconnect.com



02 November 2015

Courthouse dispute - High Peak Borough Council's viewpoint



The following is the official High Peak Borough Council statement about the government's insane idea of closing the High Peak's only magistrates' courthouse.  It is on the HPBC website:



In a formal response to the HM Courts and Tribunals Service consultation on future provision in England and Wales, the Council said it did not support the proposal to transfer the services to Chesterfield and felt that flaws in the consultation process left it open to potential legal challenge if a decision was made to close the Buxton facility.

Councillor Emily Thrane, Executive Councillor for Corporate Services, said: “This Council fully understands the pressures on publicly-funded bodies to make the most efficient use of their resources, to adopt modern technologies and the respond to citizens’ expectations but we cannot support the proposed closure of the Buxton court for several reasons.

“The assessment of the court premises is inaccurate and there is no evidence that the geography and climate of the High Peak or its transport arrangements have been properly taken into account. This has resulted in disproportionate weight being accorded to the unsuitability of the premises and inadequate weight to the unsuitability of the transport arrangements to Chesterfield.”

Magistrates have estimated that around two-thirds of the court’s business comes from Glossop, New Mills and Hayfield following the closure of the court in Glossop some years ago.

Councillor Alan Barrow, Chair of the Council’s Corporate Select Committee, added: “There is only one option presented if the court in Buxton closes – transfer to Chesterfield – and the only information on travelling times is for journeys from Buxton. This ignores the possible impact on the significant communities in the North West of the High Peak.

“Travel information in the consultation document states that 73% of journeys by public transport would take over two hours. Comparison with the data relating to other closure proposals shows these travelling times to be unusual and extreme but no attention has been drawn to this or the potential for this to act as disincentive to people attending court.”


14 October 2015

Magistrates Courts Problems Again



At the last New Mills town council meeting Cllr Ray Atkins alerted those present to a disastrous scheme proposing to close all of the area’s nearest Magistrates’ Courts.

In case local people think it will only affect crims, and therefore is not important, be aware that Family Justice and Child Safeguarding matters are often dealt with in courtrooms provided by these courthouses.  Council tax claims and consequent requests by struggling families for time to pay are also matters heard at the magistrates courts.

Our High Peak MP spoke on this emerging serious issue in Westminster Hall at 3:55 pm on 13th October 2015.  Here is an extract from the debate, which was about the closure of the Burton-on-Trent court:


Andrew Bingham (Con, High Peak):

I would have spoken in the debate, but it is only a 30-minute one, so I will settle for making an intervention. My hon. Friend is making a powerful point on behalf of Burton. I am here on behalf of Buxton court—there is only an r and an x between Burton and Buxton and when I saw the debate title I thought, “They have picked my court debate.” Does he agree that the consultation document on Buxton court in my constituency of High Peak is riddled with inaccuracies, errors, mistakes and inconsistencies that render it—I am sorry to have to say this—completely and utterly useless?

Andrew Griffiths (Con, Burton):

While there might be a letter or two between my hon. Friend and I, there is nothing between us in our view of these consultations and the validity of the evidence they contain. They are riddled with mistakes; he is absolutely right. If the Minister and her colleague are to stick to their word, and if this consultation is to be based on fact and on evidence, they must reconsider the glaring inaccuracies in the proposals.

Heather Wheeler (Con, South Derbyshire):

I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing the debate. As the people of South Derbyshire also use Burton magistrates court, will he assure me that in his strong defence of keeping the court open, he will bear in mind the importance of South Derbyshire folk’s not having to travel to Cannock, which would be utterly ludicrous?

Andrew Griffiths (Con, Burton):

I thank my hon. Friend for her intervention and her strong support for this campaign. She, like me, understands the impact of this court closure on our constituents. It is true that closing Burton magistrates court would leave nowhere in the south-east of Staffordshire that is suitable for, for instance, family work, which I know she is particularly interested in.

Let us get down to the nitty-gritty of the facts that the Ministry of Justice is using to defend this proposed closure. The proposal contains travel times for each court. The Tribunals Service has included a chart detailing what percentage of people will have to travel 30 minutes, 60 minutes and so on. In order to work that information out, it is necessary to know where each individual is travelling to and from. In other words, it is necessary to know what the new local justice areas will be and where the replacement court will be. Of course, the new local justice areas are not established in the proposals. That information is not there, so the Department is sticking its finger in the air and guessing.
It transpires that many of the estimated times are completely inaccurate. The Tribunals Service has included estimated times from Burton magistrates court to each of the replacement courts. As the proposal itself admits, not everybody lives in Burton town centre. For instance, my constituents would have to travel into Burton town centre and then get another bus to the replacement court, which would add a considerable amount of time. For the purposes of today, I have worked out travel times simply from the centre of Burton, where the magistrates court is.

Let us look at the travel times we would be considering for my constituents to reach Cannock magistrates court. By car, it would be 45 to 55 minutes, but of course, only
52% of my constituents own a car. That means that almost half would be forced to use public transport.

The Minister will be shocked to learn that we are talking about a travel time by bus of one hour and 56 minutes to get to Cannock, including two changes, and one hour and 53 minutes to return. That is a total travel time of three hours and 49 minutes. It is hard to see how that is access to local justice. By train, it is little better; it is one hour and 51 minutes to get there, including one change, and one hour and 49 minutes to return—a round trip of three hours and 40 minutes. That includes, importantly, a 60-minute walk time, because there is no other way of accessing the court. Derby, of course, is much quicker, with a total travel time of one hour and 32 minutes. The other proposal is to send court work to north Staffordshire justice centre, which is in Newcastle-under-Lyme. By car, that would be a 45-minute trip each way, but by bus, it would be three hours and eight minutes to get there and two hours and 57 minutes to get back.

Andrew Bingham (Con, High Peak):

This has an eerie ring of familiarity about it, because the document for my court in High Peak shows that 73% of public transport journeys for my constituents will take more than two hours. That is to Chesterfield, which is not practical. This is another example of inaccuracies and a lack of thinking in the consultation.

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Editor's note:

The full debate about these disastrous Magistrates’ Courts closure proposals can be found on the excellent They Work For You website.

Link:  http://www.theyworkforyou.com/whall/?id=2015-10-13a.86.0&s=speaker%3A24748

13 October 2015

Initial Report on New Mills Festival 2015


Toyah be thy name

At last night’s New Mills Town Council meeting (12 October 2015) Cllr Barry Bate, who is a member of the independent Festival Committee, presented an initial report to council about the 2015 New Mills Festival.

Although this site is mainly concerned with politics and local politics, the New Mills Festival regularly attracts readers' comments.  Also, it has an economic and public impact on the town. Therefore, the following is an edited (by HPT) summary off Cllr Bate's report to the council meeting:


Visitor numbers

According the Festival organisers, the most visited events of the annual Festival (and the biggest draw for visitors from outside New Mills) are:

1)  the lantern procession;

2)  the arts events (which includes the art trail and open weekend);

3)  the live music.

An approximate number of attendances over the 2 weeks is 18,000.


Economic impact on New Mills

The initial economic benefit estimate is £5.00 spend per head per visit. This would give an estimated total turnover for the festival of £90,000.

A conservative guess (i.e. by the Festival organisers) would be that at least 75% of this stays, immediately, in the local economy but then re-circulates because of the multiplier effect. Using an average spend of £10 per head per visit, that would produce an estimated total income to the local economy of £180,000.

In addition there were approx £12,000 of art sales.

There were quite a lot of ticketed events were the price of the ticket alone (before people buy their drinks) was more than £5.00.

Funding brought into the town via grants from other agencies was approximately £2,000. This doesn't include funding from Town, Borough or County Councils.

The Festival organisation’s turnover (revenues) this year is forecast to be £28,000, with a spend of approx £25,000. There is an estimated overspend of £500.


Future planning and development

Aims for next year are to attract more funding from bigger funding pots via two main streams:

a) community funding via various streams including Lottery, and:

b) funding for the arts component via an Arts Council application.

In order to continue to raise the profile of the whole of the two week festival the Committee will continue to book nationally/internationally known artists.

Regarding the lantern procession, the aim would be to keep numbers attending the lantern procession as they are. Coping with higher numbers would be difficult, although it is almost impossible to try and promote the general events during the two weeks without people finding out about the lantern procession element.

The Committee is also considering expanding the arts component of the festival as this is the second biggest draw and could, potentially, attract a considerable amount of funding.

A major objective is to work on a marketing strategy with other agencies in town and, thereby, to maximise the collective impact.

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Following publication of the above article, the following email was received from Lyn Bannister, one of the New Mills Festival leading lights:

"Dear Editor,

"Thank you for your very accurate report, just a couple of tiny edits. The figure for art sales and the comment about ticketed events were part of the rationale for using the £10 per head per visit equation (estimate rather than equation - HPT Ed) so would be part of the totals quoted not in addition.

"As an aside, the amount of work involved for the volunteers to run such a big event has become a huge task over the years and we are actively seeking extra pairs of hands, especially with the huge amount of admin required during the year.

"We are a very open and friendly group who very much welcome constructive feedback. With this in mind and in view of the comments that have been posted on this site in the past can we suggest that only named comments should be posted?

"We have never been approached directly for information by previous contributors and are unwilling to get into debates anonymously. However we are more than willing to discuss anything that people feel relevant good or bad. The festival is run in a very democratic way, all decisions are made by the committee and as such we have very broad shoulders.

"Yours etc... "

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The above two contributions represent broadly the official Festival view.  Below are a couple of images giving an unofficial flavour of the town's centre during the last night of the enjoyable Festival:






Some Notes on New Mills Town Council Process Improvements




Some points arising from attending the latest NMTC meeting (12 October 2015):


Good points

This meeting was conducted in a brisk and efficient way by chair Cllr Sean Whewell, and therefore concluded all its public business at a reasonable hour.


Council meeting time wasters

The above improvement in meeting management was necessary; the council’s ordinary meetings since the last local election have been bogged down by, among other things, the following factors:

1.  One specific councillor (Cllr Lance Dowson) speaking at length on virtually every item on every agenda in every council meeting.  This extends meeting lengths unreasonably.  In the friendliest possible terms: ‘Give someone else a chance, Lance.’

2. The fallout from the co-option of councillors following the candidate shortfall in the May local elections.  This issue is seemingly interminable and is taking up too much time in council meetings.

3.  Not enough delegation of suitable non-controversial tasks to the council’s proper officer (town clerk) or other staff.

4. Often there are too many items on each agenda.  For this latest meeting there were 32 items.  It is a town/parish council, not NATO.


New developments

A new minute-taker has been appointed; Sue Mycock.  Along with Sue came a new dedicated digital recorder for recording the meetings.

The previous recorder used by the town council was faulty.  It would intermittently fail to record, but without that fault making itself obvious at the time.  The minute taker would then subsequently come to the recorder relying on it having made the recording, but find an unexpected gap or total absence of sound.  That situation is akin to a safety belt with an unknown fault, i.e. probably worse than not having the item at all.


Future improvements - Relegate the regular Development Control agenda item

The monthly Development Control (i.e. planning applications) item probably should be, in the normal course of events, placed at the bottom of Part One of the agenda.

The reason is that High Peak Borough Council and Peak District National Park are the planning authorities.  Town and Parish councils have no power to grant or refuse planning applications.

In the latest town council meeting, this item was number 12 out of 32 on the agenda.


Future improvements - Advance sight of meeting documents for councillors

The highly esteemed town clerk/proper officer must soon start issuing all supporting papers to councillors before the five-day deadline in advance of each council meeting.

'Supporting papers' include the financial statements, draft minutes etc which are referred to on that meeting’s agenda.

In order to make reasonable and informed decisions, it is the law that councillors must have all the necessary supporting information about agenda items a specified time before each council meeting. This time period is generally five clear days before the meeting.

There is a lot of latent and overt goodwill towards the current town clerk/proper officer.  She is doing a sterling job.  She came into office at a disastrous time for the town council and greatly helped to steady the ship.

Wrongly and unfairly, the current town clerk has had to put up with a lot from certain people intending her malice.  In addition, she has had to put in a lot of time to correct and bring up to date lots of missing necessary work that should have been attended to by the previous clerk and staff.  Some examples include (but are not limited to) Personnel Files, Health and Safety systems, new electronic banking arrangements; these all needed sorting out.

Staff shortages, unnecessarily frequent councillor visits to the town hall office, co-options haggling and dispute, and various unwarranted external complaints and emailed/verbal attacks on town hall staff have all wastefully taken up the time of the town clerk.

Therefore, in order to help the town clerk, this issue of all supporting papers coming out to councillors with the meeting summons and agenda has to some extent been left in abeyance.

If more officer work-time is needed, or more admin staff likewise, then this should be allocated properly by the council.  Not to do so would be unfair on the council staff.


17 August 2015

The Minutes Of A Council Meeting Are Not A Report Describing That Council Meeting





The following comment, received today, is typical of comments that have been sent in over the years about the minutes from time to time of our local New Mills town council.

Broadly speaking, these comments tend to be in the form of complaints:
'It is noted in the draft minutes that Cllr Ashton's admittance that he had received a phone call from the ex clerk's husband concerning David Lamb prior to the co-option process has not been minuted . The minutes are 31/7/15. Neither was the appalling behaviour of Cllr Atkins.'
Cllr Atkins behaviour was not appalling.  On the contrary, it was a wholly understandable response after years of having to sit in council meetings and watch as one particular councillor time and time again unreasonably hogs a grossly unfair amount of the limited speaking time available.*

As part of HPT's policy of increasing local knowledge about correct procedure and the rights and wrongs of council business , we print below what the authoritative textbook Local Council Administration** says about good local council minutes:

Minutes of proceedings of a council and its committees must be kept.(1)

They are intended to be formal records of official acts and decisions, not reports, still less verbatim reports, of the speeches made by councillors.

Minutes should, therefore, be as short as is consistent with clarity and accuracy.  The arguments used in the discussion need be recorded only if the decision cannot be clearly expressed in any other way.

(1)  Local Government Act 1972, Schedule 12, para 41 (1)





Notes

*  This syndrome known locally as 'Give someone else a chance, Lance'

**  The text about good council minutes is taken from paragraph 7.36 of Arnold-Baker on Local Council Administration, Ninth Edition


11 August 2015

Shock As Town Council Meeting Held In Orderly Fashion


Some of the salient matters from last night's New Mills town council meeting are as follows.

Apologies

The first notable event was an apology from the council’s two ‘older gentlemen’ sparring partners.  Councillors Lance Dowson and Ray Atkins both offered public apologies for the extraordinary scenes they were involved in in the council chamber during the last council meeting.


Co-option way forward

Regarding the co-option issue, town clerk Lesley Bramwell indicated that the council is going to get legal advice from a lawyer specialising in town and parish council law.  This is probably the only way that justice will be seen to be done on this issue.

If there is a controversy or dispute on this co-option matter, it centres on two individuals: Lynne Allen and David Lamb.


Co-option issue - Lynne Allen

Regarding Cllr Lynne Allen, some people are saying that she should not have been co-opted.  Their reasoning is based on the fact that she alone was not present at the co-option interviews, whereas all the other co-option candidates were.

Local resident Barry Dent spoke passionately in the public speaking section about the way the co-options were handled by the council.  He views it strongly negatively.  For what it’s worth, HPT’s view on this issue is set out in the earlier co-option series of articles.

The factual situation is that Lynne Allen is a New Mills town councillor.  On the evidence to date, she is looking like a good councillor.


Co-option issue - David Lamb

Regarding David Lamb, sources close to the camp have been hinting about making a challenge through the courts.  Presumably this idea will not be taken further until the council’s specialist legal opinion has been obtained.

Any such court challenge is strictly time-limited: a judicial review must be commenced within 90 days of the public body’s decision.  In this case, that decision was made at one of two recent town council meetings.  The two sides may argue about at which of the two meetings the decision was made.  In any event, the 90-day clock has now started its remorseless ticking.


Heritage Centre News

The Heritage Centre administrator will be moving on; he has given his notice.  Cllr Whewell proposed an ‘exit interview’. If done properly, this exit interview will crystallise and make evident any issues that the employer and funder of the Heritage Centre (the town council) should need to know about.

Cllr Bate went into detail about some upcoming reviews and potential changes regarding the management of the Heritage Centre.

The lease of the Heritage Centre ends next year. When Jeff and Josh ‘saved’ the Heritage Centre, they also ‘saved’ the landlord’s ability to charge the council taxpayers of New Mills an exorbitant rent for what is basically a cellar under a bookies.

Moving the Heritage Centre to different premises must not an option that is off-limits for discussion.

Now the HC lease is coming to an end, the High Lee Hall option for the Heritage Centre must be properly, calmly, fully explored.  If this option is rejected, all the perceived pluses and minuses must be itemised and any documentation and discussion papers made public.


Town Council's new Heritage Centre Advisory Group

The legal structure of local councils permits committees to be formed to deal with specific areas of business. Provided it is formed correctly, a committee of the council acts with the authority of the council and makes decisions as if it was the council.  Those decisions are binding on the council.

Rather than a council committee, in this case a ‘Heritage Centre advisory group’ has been formed.  This keeps matters informal.  It also means that all it can do is advise and make recommendations.  It is then up to the council to make any decisions.

While this council administration is new and with a majority of currently inexperienced members, ‘advisory group reporting to council’ is probably the safest structure where Heritage Centre business is concerned.


Health and Safety progress

One of the lamentable areas of serious failure of the previous town clerk (dismissed in 2013) was Health and Safety.

A local council is seen as a prime target by ambulance chasers, ‘no-win no-fee’ lawyers and other con artists.

Wake up at the back.  The town council has therefore engaged a H and S professional.  His reports are now being dealt with and the town clerk reports that the identified issues are being prioritised and progressed in order of importance.

One matter informally brought up by the Health and Safety professional (outside this council meeting) was an alarming reminder of the former town clerk’s attitude problem, this time concerning the law relating to firearms being kept on public premises.


Another false land claim

A local resident wants some work done to a tree.

Why is this anything to do with New Mills council taxpayers?

Why are the limited, valuable resources of New Mills town council currently being wasted on a piece of land that does not belong to the council and on a matter that is literally nothing to do with the town council?

Item 17 on last night’s agenda reads ‘Peveril Avenue and overhanging trees - an update’

Stephen Lewis the Parks Manager submitted an erroneous report to council on this issue that, albeit in good faith, gave false information for councillors to act on.

Mr Lewis summarised the property position regarding this matter accurately up to the 1st of April 1974. After that date, his report to council goes right off the rails.

According to Mr Lewis’s report, the housing estate containing Peveril Avenue was built by a private developer in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Following construction of the houses, the roadside grass verges were transferred to the local authority. In this case, the local authority was the New Mills Urban District Council.

New Mills Urban District Council was abolished on 1 April 1974.

It is at this point that Mr Lewis and Cllr Lance Dowson, who was also labouring under the same false beliefs on this issue as Mr Lewis, go wrong.

Let an earlier HPT article take up the story.  The following information and facts are taken from the ‘Parks and Recreation’ article of May 2013:


Historical background to the council land ownership in the area

Up to 1974, New Mills Urban District Council was a 'full function' principal council.  In its area it dealt with major matters like building council housing, roads, sewerage, gas works and so on.  New Mills UDC was surrounded by similar councils such as Chapel-en-le-Frith Rural District Council, Glossop Borough Council and so on.

This sprawling system was streamlined in 1974.  A new local authority was created by statute, High Peak Borough Council, and all the Urban and Rural district councils were abolished on 1 April 1974.

Under the Local Government Act 1972, which came into effect on that date, the assets of the vanished councils became vested in High Peak Borough Council or Derbyshire County Council.

So far as the town of New Mills was concerned all of the publicly-owned properties, with one specific named exception (the town hall), were now owned by either High Peak Borough Council or Derbyshire County Council.

The division of properties was determined by the local authority function of each particular property asset.

Any education facilities and libraries etc owned by the New Mills Urban District Council at the point of abolition became vested in Derbyshire County Council.  Parks, council housing and general property assets became vested in High Peak Borough Council.

The exception was the Public Hall of New Mills.  This building was funded by public subscription by the people of the town before the Urban District council existed, and owned by trustees.  It was therefore not transferred, and to this day remains owned by a charity, the Public Hall of New Mills. It is the location of the current town hall.


New Mills Town Council owns some specific, itemised, named parcels of land

In March 1974 the ‘shadow’ new HPBC agreed that the “Parks and Recreation Grounds” of New Mills, together with Sett Valley House, should transfer to the newly created New Mills Town Council. This was at the request of the councillors in New Mills, who were about to lose their positions through the reorganisation.

The newly created town council was to have responsibility for maintaining the named parks and recreation grounds that would be transferred to it, and paying for their upkeep.  This arrangement would take effect after both new councils came into existence the following month.  A listing of the specific properties to be transferred to New Mills town council was compiled and agreed by both councils.

The description “Parks and Recreation Grounds”, which was adopted and put in writing by High Peak Borough Council in a memorandum along with the names of the sites, is important.  It is relevant both here and for future revelations about wrongful land transfers of High Peak Borough Council property out of its ownership.

Aside from the Town Hall and Sett Valley House, every one of the properties on the list of transfer is either a park, a recreation ground, or a children's' play area.


Summary of the Peveril Avenue facts and costs implications

Roadside verges do not feature at all on the list of properties transferred to New Mills town council.

Roadside verges do not feature at all on the list of properties owned by New Mills town council.

Roadside verges do not feature at all on any accurate asset register of New Mills town council.

The verge at Peveril Avenue is not a park. It is not a recreation ground.  The property is owned either by High Peak Borough Council on the one hand, or by the estate developer or its legal successor in title on the other hand.

If the transfer from the developer took place, then the current owner of the grass verge is HPBC. If the transfer never took place, then the current owner is the property developer or its successor in title.

So why is the New Mills council Parks Manager wasting limited, finite town council resources on anything to do with this?  That hard-earned money comes from the council taxpayers of New Mills.



09 August 2015

Notes on efficient meetings of public bodies




Lust, greed, betrayal and revenge.

But enough about the former town clerk.  Let’s now focus on some of the improvements needed to keep New Mills Town Council moving forward in the right direction.

New Mills Town Council is funded by taxpayers. The council taxpayers of New Mills pay a proportion, the taxpayers of High Peak pay another proportion by way of an annual grant to NMTC in respect of parks and recreation, and finally some of the general tax take of the UK Government is sent to our local councils.

It is therefore legitimate for local residents to demand that the meetings of the town council are run both correctly and efficiently.

What follows are some pointers to where significant improvements can be quickly made in the meetings of New Mills town council.


Only speak through the Chair, and wait for the Chair to call on you to speak

A recent development has unfortunately become evident where some councillors (not all) just start talking willy nilly in the council meetings.

In the very earliest history of democratic representation, the rule became established that one neutral person was given the authority to preside over the meeting.

In our ancient parliament that person is called the Speaker. In the Scottish parliament s/he is called the Presiding Officer. In our local authorities that person is called the Chair.

If you don’t have that rule then meetings descend into chaos and then anarchy.

All around the world where democracy is the system, the same procedure applies.  Members in the meeting do not speak until and unless they are called upon.  They are called by the neutral person who has been given the control of the meetings by the law of the land.

In New Mills council chamber that person is the Chair of the meeting.  A gavel is available for banging down by the Chair to call the meeting to order as and when necessary.


Give someone else a chance, Lance

Don’t permit one councillor to do half of all the speaking

The time of all council meetings is strictly limited.  Therefore the speaking time must be fairly shared out.

The policy of High Peak Transparency articles where responsible individuals are concerned is always ‘name names’.  HPT readers and contributors will have noticed we never say ‘a certain person this’ or ‘a certain person that’.

Which councillor takes up about half of all the time in council meetings?  Cllr Lance Dowson.

When Alistair Stevens was chair of the council, he addressed this issue politely.  On an occasion that he saw Cllr Dowson had his hand up for the umpteenth time, and few other councillors had had a chance to speak, he used the expression “Give someone else a chance, Lance”

Strangely enough, when Cllr Dowson was chair of the council, he did a very good job of it.  Far be it for anyone to suggest that was because he didn't have Cllr Lance Dowson to deal with.


Silence in the public gallery when the meeting is in progress

There is a public speaking section before the meeting, to allow anyone to have their say on local matters.

However, at the last meeting a small number of Stevens groupies were muttering and groaning and loudly making remarks from the public gallery during the council meeting.

If they knew what people thought of them doing this, they would shut up.  They are making themselves look rude, ignorant fools.


Headings to group similar agenda items together

An excellent idea has been floated that the similar agenda items be grouped together under headings.

Time-sensitive matters would be in a small group at the top of the agenda.

Non time-sensitive items would then be grouped.  For example, any parks-related matters would be together under their own heading; Heritage Centre likewise.  And so on.

Currently, agenda items are scattered with no apparent rhyme or reason to their order.  It has always been done that way in this council.  However, that is no reason for this obvious improvement to be blocked.


Delegation

Another efficiency measure would be to sensibly, judiciously delegate matters wherever possible to the council’s proper officer and office staff.  Most of the council's ordinary business should be done this way.

One of the aims and benefits of this would be to greatly reduce the number of smaller matters that take up the time of the council and public at meetings.



08 August 2015

New Mills Town Council Chair's Report



Following the cuttings-short of recent New Mills town council meetings, HPT emailed the Chair of the council Sean Whewell to request a copy of the Chair's Report.

This request was made in order to publish the report to a wider audience.

The following is  the Chair's Report that would have been gone through at the 31 July 2015 town council meeting if time had not been cut short by the council rightly discussing at length the final settlement of the recent councillors co-option issue:



1.           Meetings : This month I have attended meetings and calls with Residents, Town Clerk, Town Hall staff from Parks and Gardens and Caretakers, HPBC, DCC, David Owen, Mark Trillo, Pridewater Estates (New Mills Marina), Northern Rail, New Mills Bridge Club, New Mills Art Theatre, several Community groups and Councillors.


2.           Health and Safety – The Chair and Clerk attended an update meeting with David Owen – in summary whilst big advances have been made with particular merit needed to the Clerk and Caretaker there is the ongoing need to have a rolling program of checks with relevant staff and council ownership.

This will be facilitated by an ongoing health and safety agenda item in the  monthly NMTC meeting where progress/updates can be reported upon but there is also the need for individual staff objectives to be set based on an individuals role.


3.           Carnival – Successful Carnival on 13 June, the weather was kind and it was good to see so many town council staff and Town, Borough and County councillors being involved – special thanks to the parks and caretakers departments who helped make the day a big success.

Copies of the draft accounts are now available on request.


4.           One World Festival – A perfect summers day in High Lea Park, on 4 July, again good to see good involvement from council at all levels – I've received feedback from the OWF committee on how well the Park is maintained and the assistance received from the caretakers department to assist in movement of chairs, tables etc


5.           New Mills 150 – many events during the month of July highlighting the big part the railway has played in New Mills over the past century and a half. Town hall buildings have been used extensively during the festival (Heritage Centre for exhibition and hosting the commemoration party from Northern Rail and railway partnership agencies – particular thanks to New Mills Band, New Mills Heritage Centre staff and Parks staff for making this a successful celebration with visitors from across the North West.

It’s worth highlighting in particular the Model railway exhibition that returned to the Town Hall after a 30 year absence and a special train from New Mills to Carlisle which was so long it wouldn't fit onto the platform at New Mills Central.


6.           Parks - There have been three further meetings to write a proposal to NICE (Neighbourhoods Investing  Criminal Earnings) – this was submitted via the Friends of New Mills Parks last week - if successful this would give funding of £40K to redevelop the park in Ollersett – input has been received via the Parks Manager  with a letter of support from the Chair.  Having discussed with the Clerk any future maintenance and ownership agreements will need to be agreed by council with suitable legal governance in place, this has been highlighted in the bid and in the Chairs letter of support.

Feedback on the bid is expected early August.


7.           Training – Thanks you to the councillors who attended the training on 22 June in Buxton in June – please pay attention to emails from the Clerk and monitor the DALC web site for future opportunities which will help you in fulfilling your role as a councillor.


8.           Minutes – two expressions of interest to date – The Clerk has reissue the advertisement with a closing date of 7 August so that those interested can formally reply and be considered.


9.           Bridge Club – I met with the Chair and Secretary of the Bridge club who were seeking assurances that their concerns over safe access were being listened to as they hadn't had a response since January of this year – the exit lighting from the emergency exit to the lecture theatre is being reviewed via the clerk and the currently boarded up steps will be replaced by a suitably style ornate gate which was awaiting DCC planning permission request.



10.       Surgery – first Council surgery was held on 7 July in the function room of the Beehive – an interesting session covering everything from dog poo to NMTC carbon footprint – those items deemed a responsibility for NMTC will make their way to the agenda if they need a council decision, those that are specific to a council ward will be passed to councillors for that ward – those that are outside of our responsibility will be responded to pointing the resident in the right direction which is usually to one of the other two councils which form part of the local government. 



02 August 2015

How I finally learned how to spell 'Diarrhoea'





Scene:  The council chamber in New Mills, High Peak, Derbyshire.

Date:  Friday 31 July 2015.

Time:  The council meeting was scheduled to start at 7:30 pm, but was a few minutes late due to discussions outside the room involving the council chairman, the town clerk and Mr David Lamb.

The issue being discussed:  The identity of the newly co-opted councillors, following ineffective May 2015 local elections for five seats in the Ollersett ward and one seat in the Sett ward.

At about twelve minutes past eight, the council was still discussing the co-option result when Cllr Ray Atkins finally had enough of Cllr Lance Dowson monopolising the speaking time during council meetings.

Cllr Atkins complained loudly about Cllr Dowson’s ‘verbal diarrhoea’ (the exact expression used by Cllr Atkins) that constantly delays progress of council business in the chamber and prevents other members from getting a chance to speak.

The meeting moves on.  The clock moves around the dial to 8:30 pm:

Cllr Lance Dowson:   I won’t be voting for it. (Editor's note: the co-option proposal that has just been made) I'm not prepared to put myself or the council in a position where they could be open to a very considerable financial obligation.  And I would like as a right of a councillor to have a named vote on this issue.

David Lamb:   Can I just add, even though what Cllr Ashton just said, believes there are eleven councillors… in front of me is a signed declaration of acceptance of office for parish councillor and that will obviously be part of the evidence there… from the advice given by DALC

Cllr Ray Atkins:  Surely a signed declaration means nothing if you weren't elected in the first place.  I could go on the House of Commons website and download an acceptance for Member of Parliament for High Peak.  It wouldn't make… I wouldn't draw very much salary I can tell you and you wouldn't see me very much in parliament

Unidentified cllr voice (female):  Can you take control of this meeting please… it’s half past eight and we’re still…

Chairman Cllr Sean Whewell:   It’s an important thing we’re discussing…

Unidentified cllr voice (female):   I know it’s important, but we’re just going round in circles.

SW  We’re part way through a proposal here…

Cllr Tony Ashton:   We've had a proposal and we've had a seconder chair… I suggest we put it to the vote

LD  And I've used my right to ask for a named vote.

(Pause)

LD  Sorry, but for those that don’t know, that records how people voted for it or against it.  And I've made the point that I'm not prepared to vote for it because of the possibility of opening individuals and the council to considerable financial charges.

TA  Individuals can not be charged…

RA  That’s right.  You fail on that Lance, sorry.

LD  Don’t take… will you stop taking such stupid joy in…

RA  No, Lance.  You speak time and time again.  Verbal diarrhoea!

LD  Calm down…

RA  Meeting after meeting after meeting

(Both LD and RA start shouting across each other)

LD  Can I just point out if someone’s disturbing the meeting council can ask that he be removed. Councillor Atkins is disturbing the meeting

RA  Can we both go out?

Cllr Lance Dowson looks furious.  He gets up from his chair and rushes sideways towards the door, like an angry crab.

Readers who are unfamiliar with the layout of the council chamber need to know that the row of councillors that Cllr Dowson was sitting in, in which he was furthest away from the door, has councillors sitting in chairs with their backs close to the wall.

This meant that Cllr Dowson had to squeeze sideways between the middle three chairs and the wall, holding on to the backs of the chairs as he passed, while pulling in his stomach as best he could.

It must be hard to maintain an angry facial expression whilst simultaneously a) sporting a beard; b) sucking your breath in; and c) trying to make sideways progress through a particularly awkward space behind three lady councillors.

Meanwhile, Cllr Atkins also rushed towards the door.  His route was unencumbered.

The instincts of retired senior police officer Mike Carter now cause him to jump up and hasten to the door.  In his case it was to intercept the superannuated potential pugilists.  In a surprising development, it turns out he can move quite fast for someone awaiting serious knee surgery.

‘You can’t fight in here. This is the War Room’ as the president puts it in Dr Strangelove.

In all the years of covering New Mills town council, from a fraudulent ‘village green’ claim over land containing a brick-built sewage works (2002), to a councillor deliberately asking a town clerk to lie to the other councillors (2008), from a compensation culture ‘trip and slip’ claim being made against the town council for a piece of land it has never owned (2015 - story to follow), to a town clerk keeping a lover’s willy pictures in the town council’s safe (2013), I have never seen anything quite like this.

Instead of things like the above, can we please have a normal, placid, efficient, businesslike, time-conscious, honest town council ?

No doubt now that we have a settled membership line-up, four females are on the council, and the selfish misuse of other people’s time at meetings, repetitively and constantly, by just one particular councillor (leading to this incident), has been vividly brought to the new Chair’s attention, the council should now be able to improve things.


01 August 2015

The Settlement Of The Council Membership Question







The saga over the number of current members of New Mills Town Council is over *.

Last night’s town council meeting, on the evening of Friday 31 July 2015, passed a resolution that the council moves forward with eleven members, leaving one council vacancy to be filled in due course.

A bizarre postscript was added to the resolution.  This was that Mark Trillo, an officer of High Peak Borough Council, be consulted.

What has this matter, which is a technical local government co-option matter, got to do with Mark Trillo?  He is the Borough Council’s monitoring officer, the post which deals with standards and conduct of existing councillors.  True, he is a deputy election returning officer, but this is not a public election it is a council co-option.  These are two distinct, separate areas of law.

The only serious option available to the council if it wants to obtain definitive legal advice on this matter would be to instruct the council’s solicitor to obtain opinion of counsel.

The specialist barrister consulted (‘counsel’) would be a legal expert in town and parish council law. The total cost to the local council taxpayers would probably be in the region of £2,000 to £3,000.

HPT Editor’s view on the principal issue - whether David Lamb is a councillor or not - changed as soon as the recording of the council co-option meeting was played.

Prior to listening back to the meeting recording, because of the protocols in place for selecting six new councillors after the May local elections, it seemed fairly plain that David Lamb was a co-opted councillor.  Given the correspondence etc with the Derbyshire Association of Local Councils, at the very least that was a reasonable view to take in the matter.

However upon playing the recording, it is clear that the chairman of the council, Cllr Whewell, lists the six people who are co-opted on to the council and then declares the meeting closed.  Both the statements and the timing of the statements are critical.

The recording now proves that it is after the meeting has closed that Andy Bowers, one of the successful co-optees, withdraws his application to be on the council.  This timing of the closing of the meeting is fatal to the case that David Lamb was one of the six co-optees.


* It is open to any elector or person aggrieved by this decision to challenge it by asking the High Court to review it.

In another example of time being critical, all parties interested in this matter need to be aware that under the courts’ Civil Procedure Rules they have to give the public body in question (NMTC) notice of intention to apply for judicial review as soon as possible, and in any event must make the application to the High Court no later than three months after the public body’s decision was made.





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Aldi Planning Application - A Right of Reply





Borough and Town Councillor Lance Dowson has sent in a response to some recent readers' comments on High Peak Transparency that he believes are unfair.

The issue concerned is the Aldi planning application for a supermarket fronting the A6 next to Newtown station (site pictured above).

We always print a 'Right of Reply' article when one is sent to us. The only requirement is that it must carry the name of the person or entity that has made the reply.

Here is Cllr Dowson's statement in full:


"The Aldi planning application came before the High Peak Borough council development control committee (planning committee) on Monday and was passed by 10 votes for and 1 against

The position that I am in, on the committee, is that I can speak on all applications for approx a minute or so as a committee member, and have a vote, or if an application is in my ward area then I can speak for approx. 5 minutes as the ward councillor but am then unable to vote.

On this occasion I had planned to speak to it as a member of the committee as Cllr Ray Atkins had said that ”in all probability” he would attend to speak as the ward member so that the committee would hear about the issues from both cllrs.

However as Cllr Atkins had not arrived by 1.30, when the meeting was due to start, I had to decide whether to speak on the committee for a minute or so and vote, or as the ward member for around five minutes and lose my right to vote. I chose to speak as the ward member which meant that I had to prepare some notes in the 10/15 minutes while the first item on the agenda was being debated.

These are the comments that I made:

This is a very important application that could have a considerable effect on New Mills if passed and as the opinions about whether it will be good or bad for the town are very close in numbers I ask you to consider it very carefully.

One of the main concerns that many people have is the risk to the current shops in New Mills.

Ten years ago the town partnership and the town council decided that as we didn't have such things as the Pavilion Gardens, the Opera House etc we needed to promote good value, good quality local shops.

We obtained regeneration grants to replace many of the town centre shop fronts with more of the original/traditional style, argued for ,and got, better parking arrangements and we now have:-
Two  very good in shop bakeries
Two very good fruit and veg shops.
An excellent butcher (I would argue as good as the one in Glossop that gets a lot of awards)
A very good florist
A very good visiting fishmonger
And many other very good little shops but these could be the ones most affected.
People now travel to New Mills to use these shops from Marple, Disley, Hayfield and even further away to visit and shop in our town.

These shops must not be put at risk

But then Sainsburys and the Co-op are dear and there is a need for a ‘discount food store’ for the residents on benefits, low wages etc especially as the New Mills East area has areas within it that are the second or third most deprived areas in the High Peak.

Resident’s opinions:

I did a very simple survey of the residents in the immediate area.
My question was – are you concerned about the new Aldi store?
I visited 141 houses - 126 people were in – 58 said no – 68 said yes

Cllr Atkins did a survey through his Focus newsletter and, I think, that the response to his first question was against it but for the second question for it.

In your officer's report there are 60 something for it and 70 something against it.

Basically therefore overall consistently just under 50% for it and just over 50% against it, that’s how close it is.

The town council has expressed concerns about the loss of an historical building and the potential highway problems.

Other considerations:

Looking on the internet we can see that we already have Aldi stores in Romily-4 miles away, Hazel Grove  4.2 miles away, Offerton -4.5 miles away, Chapel -5 miles away, Glossop -5.3 miles away and Hyde 5.4 miles away.
Therefore we already have 6 Aldi stores at around 5 miles away and I ask you to consider is this an Aldi too far.

We also now have an Asda in place of the co-op in Marple just 2 miles away.

Other points that i would ask you to consider are:-

Could the car park entrance not be widened, by removing the grassed, flower, tree area, so that the old chapel could be saved and turned into flats.

If you do decide to approve it could you put a condition in to protect the residents living in the old school from the effects of the demolition of the chapel etc.?

I know that this is a very difficult decision for you but, in spite of the need for a discount store, due to the proximity of all the other Aldi stores, the new Asda, the loss of an historical building, the many questions about the highway issues and the potential risk to the local shops in the town centre and the possible loss of these to the town I lean towards asking you to reject it.

Thank you"



27 July 2015

Aldi Given Planning Permission For New Supermarket at New Mills Newtown



This evening, Jonathan Dodds of the Buxton Advertiser posted the following on the newspaper's website:

Plans for a new Aldi retail food store in New Mills have been given the green light, despite fears by objectors that it will lead to increased traffic congestion and impact on existing town centre shops.

High Peak Borough Council’s Development Control Committee voted 10-1 in favour of the development of a single storey flat-roofed supermarket on vacant land off Albion Road, close to Newtown train station.

The budget supermarket chain’s new store, covering a gross floor area of 1,784 square metres, will be accompanied by 92 customer and six staff parking spaces. The roof will also be fitted with an array of 200 photovoltaic solar panels.

The application provoked a mixed response from residents, with 51 letters of support received by the council and over 70 in objection.

New Mills councillor Lance Dowson told the committee there were conflicting arguments both for and against the scheme. These included balancing the need to protect the town centre’s traditional independent shops with that of offering a discount food store to people living in areas of the town deemed some of the most deprived in High Peak.

“Perhaps this is an Aldi too far?” he questioned, referring to an online search which revealed six Aldi stores within five miles of the town.

Other concerns highlighted included fears over increased traffic, particularly at the junction with Albion Road, and the proposed demolition of the neighbouring methodist chapel as part of alterations to the site entrance, an action which objectors claimed would be “an act of vandalism”.

A planning officer’s report to the meeting, which recommended approval, said the proposed development would “deliver economic, social and environmental benefits”, adding that any negative impacts relating to highway safety and residential amenity could be addressed through planning conditions.

Cllr Emily Thrane said, on the face of it, she could see no reason to refuse the application, and welcomed the inclusion of an overspill car park for the railway station which would provide 22 spaces.

Cllr Stewart Young lauded the potential boost to local jobs, and reiterated a condition of approval would be a Section 106 agreement to deliver funding towards highway and traffic management measures.

Voting against approval, Cllr John Kappes said that while he welcomed the development of a brownfield site, he felt there were more suitable uses for the land.

“This is an ideal location for start-up housing, what with a train station and shops nearby,” he commented.

“For me, Aldi would be wrong for New Mills, it would be wrong for Disley, and would be a drain on local resources.”

The approved plans also included outline permission for a light industrial unit at the rear of the site, and retention of the existing footbridge.

21 July 2015

This is getting silly



Following the unexpected postponement / cancellation of its 13 July 2015 meeting without notice, New Mills town council duly convened a council meeting with the same agenda to take place on this coming Thursday 23 July 2015.

The replacement meeting was convened in the correct legal way as follows:

1. The agenda for the meeting was published by affixing it in a conspicuous place in the town.

(In this case, the conspicuous place is the public notice board at the junction of Spring Bank, Hall Street and Market St)

2.  The summons to attend the meeting, along with the published agenda, was sent out to all councillors.

So far so good.


So what are we to make of the following email, which was sent to all councillors this morning at just after 11 o'clock.  The text of the email is:

"Good morning

I have been instructed by the Chair to cancel the meeting for Thursday 23rd July.  I have suggested that the Vice Chair should chair the meeting.

Regards

Lesley Bramwell

Clerk to New Mills Town Council"


It has now been several weeks since the last normal business of New Mills Town Council was conducted, excluding of the co-option of the new group of councillors.

In a possibly connected development, we understand that a small number of people is still hoping that they might be able to obstruct council member Cllr David Lamb from taking his duly appointed place at meetings.


The law concerning absence of a local council chairman is clear, simple and unambiguous:

Local Government Act 1972, Schedule 12:

Paragraph 11(2):
If the chairman of the council is absent from a meeting of the council, the vice chairman of the council, if present, shall preside.

Paragraph 11(3):
If both the chairman and the vice-chairman of the council are absent from a meeting of the council, such councillor as the members of the council present shall choose shall preside



NOTE:  SINCE THE ABOVE ARTICLE WAS PUBLISHED, THE OFFICIAL NOTICE HAS BEEN PUT ON THE TOWN COUNCIL WEBSITE ADVISING THAT THE 23 JULY 2015 MEETING HAS BEEN CANCELLED

28 June 2015

Co-option Meeting Part Three - The Final Interviews, and the Selection Is Arrived At


Continued from previous article


David Lamb

The next candidate to be interviewed was David Lamb.  David has been a councillor for four years.

Cllr Lamb had a very strong attendance record during his last four-year term.

David’s tenure as the chairman of New Mills Town Council 2014-2015 was outstanding.  This is because he stood up to all of the blackmail, all of the threats, and all of the dirty tricks that the ex-town clerk’s little band of supporters could throw at him following her dismissal.

As a result, the Hall Street Jokers failed in their attempt to shake down New Mills town council - and hence the council taxpayers of New Mills.  See previous HPT articles for all the details of this.

However some of the Hall Street Jokers are still up to their little games so far as Cllr Lamb is concerned.

After trying to scapegoat everyone else, the HSJs are now trying to scapegoat Cllr Lamb for their abject defeat in their doomed Employment Tribunal claim.

The HSJs look everywhere to cast blame, except for the right place.  The blame lies solely with the unacceptable actions and omissions of the dishonest, incompetent and foul-mouthed former town clerk (Susan Stevens) who was sacked for gross misconduct in a public office.

The latest lies against Cllr Lamb being peddled by disgraced ex-councillor Alistair Stevens (partner of Susan Stevens) are claims of so-called ‘money laundering’. No doubt Cllr Lamb will also be accused of financing Al-Qaeda, planning to poison the national water supply, causing the Greek eurozone crisis, and being behind the appointment of Chris Evans to Top Gear.


Rebecca Harman

Rebecca was the only candidate to get a vote from all six of the voting councillors.  That’s quite a vote of confidence to live up, so good luck to her.

Being a beginner at this sort of thing, Rebecca indicated that she would like to attend the necessary ‘good councillor’ training.  She won’t have to start from scratch though, as the excellent Good Councillor Guide is expected to be distributed to all the newly co-opted councillors who don’t yet have a copy

When leaving the interview, she put in a good word for Lynn Allen (formerly Cardwell), the candidate who was not present at the interviews.


Andy Bowers

Andy Bowers is New Mills born and bred, with a phenomenal range of local contacts.  He has just completed a four-year term as a councillor.

Andy believes that, because the council is a public body, paid for by public money, its business must be conducted openly and in public.


Result

The six new councillors-elect on New Mills Town Council were announced as (in alphabetical order):

Lynne Allen

Sara Atherton

Andy Bowers (subsequently withdrew; see note below)

Derek Brumhead

Rebecca Harman

Claire Lamb

Just after the co-option meeting ended, Andy Bowers announced to the meeting that he was withdrawing from the co-option process.  As he did not sign the Declaration of Acceptance of Office, he did not become a councillor.

The above five new members join the existing six councillors, who are:

Sean Whewell (Chair)

Tony Ashton

Josh Gaskell

Lance Dowson

Ray Atkins

Barry Bate


The gender agenda

The council is now more balanced than previously, having seven males and four females, and a couple of younger (or at least younger-looking) members. It is no longer exclusively pale, male and stale.