23 April 2018

Answers To Correspondents

The following came in as a comment but because it asks for a response it is worthy of its own proper main space here:

"Dear Editor, a few questions for you, What would happen if the council didn't call a parish meeting? Given there are time restraints, at what point would the electorate be able to do so? If an incompetent/dishonest council did not want to, then there is no need to, if what you say is correct. Finally, why are councillors so precious about calling their meeting? when according to you, there is nothing illegal about the one called by the six people."


Should we answer questions that are sent in anonymously?

Should someone send in questions anonymously, if that person is a serious person?


Irrespective, here are the answers in the same order as the questions:

Q1) "What would happen if the council didn't call a parish meeting?"

A.  No-one "calls" a parish meeting.  A parish meeting is convened, not called, and that is done by any one of the following: chairman of the local parish (town) council; any two councillors; any six electors.

If a town/parish council failed to set a date and time for the annual parish meeting then it would be breaking the law.  Mr Lamb is correct in saying there is no punishment or sanction against a council in the event of this particular law-breaking.  That phenomenon is what our learned friends call a lacuna, that is to say a gap in the law.

New Mills town council went on for years failing to set dates for the legally required Annual Parish Meetings.  The council finally caught up with its legal responsibility in this regard in 2002.

The council had been in existence since 1974.

Memorably, at that first 2002 parish meeting the chairman of the meeting Dishonest Ian Huddlestone then defrauded the electorate of the parish poll validly called by that meeting.

Why did he do this?  a) because Labour High Peak Borough Councillor Ian Samuel Edward Huddlestone is a dishonest individual,  and  b) the Labour Party group knew that the poll was highly likely to expose the level of public opposition for Labour's grandiose scheme to move High Peak's magistrates' court to New Mills.

Q2) "Given there are time restraints, at what point would the electorate be able to do so?"

If by electors you mean any six electors, they can do so at any time.  The selection of the date and time of the meeting is then the sole responsibility of the parish (town) council.  If the parish (town) council fails to set the date of the annual meeting between 1st March and 1st June, both inclusive, then it would break the law.

Q3) "Finally, why are councillors so precious about calling their meeting?"

I am not the correct person to answer for councillors; what with me not being a member of the council and all.

It is worth recording that not all councillors agreed with the date of the 30th.  However, that is now the date for the New Mills Annual Parish Meeting which has been decided upon by the town council in accordance with the relevant statute governing the choice of date and time of such meetings.



18 April 2018

Statement from David Lamb, local elector and former Chair of New Mills Town Council


The communication below was received from David Ian Lamb on 18 April 2018 at 13:20.  Due to its content and detail it is published here as a standalone article rather than in the comments section where it was originally directed:


"It is not a Law that the Parish/Town Council who sets the date and time for the Annual Parish Meeting, if someone breaks the Law there are consequences.

"The setting of the Time and Date of The Annual Parish Meeting by a Parish/ Town Council is not enforceable and not a law, it is described as a rule, which is the normal or customary way of doing something. That is a fact.

"In addition the Parish / Town Council is under no obligation to convene the Annual Parish Meeting unless there is a certain act that the Council do that needs consent, again a fact.

"As ever I can point the way to the Legislation and the definitions of that Legislation, which is very long winded.  The Agenda item which was number 14 dated the 9th April 2018, in a full New Mills Town Council Meeting, was an announcement.  It said: 'Annual Parish Meeting date-23rd April 2018-called by 6 Residents'.

"There was no separate agenda item to discuss or debate or set a time and date for the Annual Parish Meeting. The members then went into a debate, when the announcement was made. I was not there but I understand that the Chair allowed it to go ahead as there ' was some discussion to be had '

"Cllr Ray Atkins led this debate with a minute portion of the Local Government Act 1972 as his basis for the debate.  I am awaiting a transcript of what actually was said. To cut a long story short, without a specific agenda item that would permit them to do so (breaching the relevant Local Government Act and their own standing orders again) they dismissed the 23rd April date and voted to hold their own ‘Annual Parish Meeting’ one week later.

"This is totally invalid, for the reasons given. The Council has already had a definitive answer from the National Association of Local Council solicitors in Feb 2017, that they can not suddenly make up an agenda item in a meeting, debate, propose and vote, and once more they had again breached the Local Government Act and the voted-upon and approved Council Standing Orders.

"However if they want a meeting for some reason there is no harm in that, but the 30th April date is invalid.

"The Annual Parish Meeting which was called for by six local electors will be going ahead as properly convened on the 23rd APRIL 2018 at 7:00pm, in the Public Hall at the Town Hall on Springbank New Mills. Everyone is invited and usual terms and conditions apply. If there were to be any vote on Parish matters during the meeting then only the electors for the Parish can do so."



17 April 2018

Replacement date and time for the 2018 New Mills Annual Parish Meeting




The Annual Parish Meeting ('APM') of the town of New Mills, Derbyshire will be held in the Public Hall (i.e. top floor of the town hall) on Monday 30 April 2018 starting at 7:30 p.m.

The previous notice of APM for an earlier date - which was validly called at the time by six electors - is superseded by the subsequent New Mills town council decision made under the Local Government Act 1972, Schedule 12, Part 3, Paragraph 14 which at sub-paragraph (2) states:

... parish meetings shall be held on such days and at such times as may be fixed by the parish council... 

For the avoidance of doubt, here is the full text of Paragraph 14 of the above statute:

(1) The parish meeting of a parish shall assemble annually on some day between 1st March and 1st June, both inclusive, in every year.

(2) Subject to sub-paragraph (1) above and to sub-paragraph (3) below, parish meetings shall be held on such days and at such times as may be fixed by the parish council or, if there is no parish council, by the chairman of the parish meeting.

(3) In a parish which does not have a separate parish council the parish meeting shall, subject to any provision made by a grouping order, assemble at least twice in every year.

(4) The proceedings at a parish meeting shall not commence earlier than 6 o’clock in the evening.

(5) A parish meeting shall not be held in premises which at the time of the meeting may, by virtue of a premises licence or temporary event notice under the Licensing Act 2003, be used for the supply of alcohol (within the meaning of section 14 of that Act), except in cases where no other suitable room is available for such a meeting either free of charge or at a reasonable cost.

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The statute can be found online at the official UK Government site:
 https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1972/70/schedule/12/paragraph/14

The meeting agenda can be found on the New Mills town council website:
http://www.newmillstowncouncil.org.uk/meetings.php

Record of all previously unpublished comments received when the Annual Parish Meeting date was 23 April 2018



Regarding the following comment, received  by HPT on 17 April 2018:

"According to the Good Councillors' Guide: 'The Annual Parish Meeting is NOT a council meeting. It is a meeting of the parish or town electors taking place between 1 March and 1 June. The chairman of the council, any two councillors, OR ANY SIX ELECTORS can call the Annual Parish or Town Meeting'.

Since the Annual Parish Meeting has already been perfectly properly called by six electors, can you explain what authority the chairman of the town council has to overrule this meeting and arrange a separate Annual Parish Meeting on a different date, as well as HPT falling over itself to collude in this?

Can you also explain why previous attempts to comment on this subject have not been uploaded? Or is HPT biased? If this comment does not appear, we shall know."



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In the interests of transparency what follows are all of the comments received in respect of the now-deleted post on HPT which had a previously-set date - now superseded by the date of 30 April - for the 2018 New Mills Annual Parish Meeting.

The comments are in the order of latest first, i.e. the earliest comment is at the bottom of the article:


Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "2018 Annual Parish Meeting of New Mills, Derbyshir...":

"Why has this meeting been removed from the council website?"

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "2018 Annual Parish Meeting of New Mills, Derbyshir...": 

"This meeting is not on the council web sight is it advertised anywhere else?"

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "2018 Annual Parish Meeting of New Mills, Derbyshir...": 

"It seems that the self-styled Mr New Mills, Barry Bate, and his cohorts, aren't happy with a legally-arranged meeting and want to set up their own.

"How much longer are the good folk of New Mills going to let these petty dictators get away with flouting the law?"

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "2018 Annual Parish Meeting of New Mills, Derbyshir...": 

"Is it lawful to have two meetings and when will the minutes of last years meeting be put on the website?"

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "2018 Annual Parish Meeting of New Mills, Derbyshir...": 

"Can you have 2 annual meetings?"

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "2018 Annual Parish Meeting of New Mills, Derbyshir...": 

"Ridiculous situation of two meetings.Why???? another example of Cllr Bate doing what he wants and basic ignorance of other sheep on the council"

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "2018 Annual Parish Meeting of New Mills, Derbyshir...": 

"It seems that yet again Barry Bate and his disciples are planning to break the law by insisting that this legally and properly-arranged Parish Meeting should not be taking place, and instead arranging their own version.

"How much longer are the good people of New Mills willing to let these lunatics carry on running the asylum? "

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "2018 Annual Parish Meeting of New Mills, Derbyshir...": 

"After Monday's meeting this meeting is now on 30th April. Apparently there is only one annual parish meeting and the town council have set it for 30th April. It is on there websight "

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "2018 Annual Parish Meeting of New Mills, Derbyshir...": 

"But why does New Mills require two parish meetings within eight days of each other, there must be an awful lot of business to discuss and sort out!! "

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "2018 Annual Parish Meeting of New Mills, Derbyshir...": 

"According to Visit New Mills the chair of the council, barry bates,has decided that he is holding another annual parish meeting on another date. "

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "2018 Annual Parish Meeting of New Mills, Derbyshir...": 

"Please clarify VNM says meeting on 30th April "



26 March 2018

The Heritage Centre's Future Management: One Side Of the Arguments




The following is an edited (for brevity) email/comment received from an esteemed HPT reader in early February.  The writer of the comment has asked that their name not be put into the public domain on this matter.  We are happy to comply due to the substance of the comment being broadly in line with what several people have said to HPT Editor on the subject of the current  and future management of the New Mills Heritage and Information Centre:


"Following a meeting at the Town Hall about the Heritage Centre, I think this issue could be developed into a whole new thread on HPT.

"Unfortunately comments made by Judith Lanham about the way the Centre had been run were outrageously insulting to those of us who gave much of our time for 25 years and demand a response and vehement challenge.

"I was, and am, amazed at Cllr Bates' complete disregard for due process.

"This situation at New Mills is completely bizarre! Meetings of the so-called Heritage and Information Centre Working Party (or Committee of the Town Council, both have been used, despite as I understand it, no resolution having been made at the TC to designate either) have been held, where councillors have been SUMMONED to attend, and the agenda has been laid out as if it were a full Town Council meeting.

"No answer was given to Cllr Lance Dowson at the meeting as to whether or not councillors should have been summoned, and it was never established whether the 'group' was a working party, sub-committee or committee of the Town Council. This is apparently to be decided at the next full Town Council meeting.

"What I completely fail to understand is why anything needs to be changed about the management of the Heritage Centre. I believe that the Constitution of the Heritage Centre has never yet been rescinded; therefore the Town Council should be continuing to run the Heritage Centre according to that Constitution.

"It is difficult to understand what system could possibly work any better. However, and this is a big 'however', we are now having to reckon with a power-crazy Chair of Council and equally power-crazy people at the Heritage Centre who have assumed responsibilities upon themselves which they have no right to have.

"At the meeting, it was clear that Barry Bate did not like any comment with which he did not agree, especially those which challenged his (or the council's) authority, and it seems he is determined to motor on regardless.

"Alistair Stevens was in attendance, though for what reason I do not know, since he of all people should be aware of the fact that it was his wife in her role as town clerk who put the boot into the Heritage Centre in the first place, and subsequent administrations have tacitly allowed and colluded with those who wish to take all the glory.

"Of all the present councillors, only Lance Dowson actually has any right to speak authoritatively on the history of the Heritage Centre's management.

"If the council adhered to the regime under which the Heritage Centre ran perfectly well for nearly 30 years, the Centre would continue to be a well-loved resource for the town and its visitors, and that there is absolutely no need for this to change. Those self-opinionated detractors and busybodies should be shut up once and for all, and everyone should be working together for the future of the place."



The above is a personal opinion of a former volunteer at the Heritage Centre, and is not the view of HPT.