27 February 2015

Employment Tribunal Dates and Times

The hearings in the much-anticipated Employment Tribunal cases of Susan Stevens and Marie Dudley v New Mills Town Council will start in just over a week’s time.

The cases start at 10.00 a.m. on Monday 9 March 2015.

The venue is the Manchester Employment Tribunal, Alexandra House, 14 - 22 Parsonage, Manchester M3 2JA.  The hearing is in a public Tribunal.

The picture at the top of this article is an extract from the Press Listing which has just been issued by the Courts and Tribunals Service.  Only the alphabetical order name of the first claimant is shown for each hearing: that is why Mrs Dudley is shown but Mrs Stevens isn't.

The hearings are expected to last about 5-7 working days, unless the judge starts laughing uncontrollably.

26 February 2015

A Surprising Choice

For those people in the High Peak who are fans of Country and Western and Alan Barrow, here is a press release from High Peak Borough Council:

"The Mayor and Mayoress of High Peak, Councillor Alan Barrow and Mrs Susan Barrow will be holding a Charity Barn Dance, on Saturday 28th February 2015, in the Restaurant at the Pavilion Gardens, Buxton. The event will comprise of a drinks reception commencing at 7pm, two course dinner at 7.30pm and dancing to 'Swing Persuasion'.

"The aim is to provide a wonderful and memorable evening and raise funds for their Mayoral charities, which are Blythe House and Kinder Mountain Rescue. The dress code for the evening is smart casual.

"We do hope that you'll be able to join us for a fantastic night. If you would like to attend please e-mail Julie Fawkes, the Mayor's Secretary.

"Alternatively, print and complete the form at the bottom of the page (HPBC page) and return to Julie Fawkes at High Peak Borough Council, P.O Box 136, Buxton, Derbyshire, SK17 1AQ by 20th February 2015."

22 February 2015

Curious Brian

The already curious case of a former DALC Chief Officer and Treasurer taking the side of a dishonest former town clerk just became even more curious.

High Peak Transparency readers, who tend to be better informed on these sorts of local politics issues than the ordinary man in the street, will recall that Mr Brian Wood, formerly of the Derbyshire Association of Local Councils ('DALC'), took part in public speaking at the last New Mills town council meeting.

What Mr Wood had to say at the meeting was controversial, to say the least.

The fact that he made a round trip from Matlock - which is a distance of more than 60 miles -to say it is also noteworthy.

Regarding Mr Wood, we have now been pointed in the direction of an earlier New Mills town council meeting, which took place on Monday 8 July 2013.

Item 1 on the agenda was ‘To resolve to employ Mr Brian Wood as Minute Taker for the meeting.’

Here is the relevant minute of the meeting for that agenda item:
‘Cllr Barrow asked as a point of information, why Mr Woods was not present to take the minutes.  The Chair explained after speaking with Derbyshire Association of Local Councils, Mr Woods would only minute take and not give advice, and was happy not to attend on this basis, as he did not want to be put on the spot.’

The contrast between Mr Wood’s attitude towards the two different meetings is curious.

As further information comes in on the developing issue of Mr Brian Wood the ex DALC officer and Mrs Susan Stevens, the former town clerk of New Mills who was dismissed for gross misconduct, you will read it here first.

19 February 2015

What About The Workers?

Another edition of the local Conservatives' election leaflet/grumble sheet 'In Touch' arrived today.

Thanks go to our special delivery services, which hopefully will be keeping HPT and its loyal readers supplied with the election efforts of all the local political parties and independents.

The Save The Badger election leaflet has also arrived, which should receive a review here on HPT shortly.

This new edition of In Touch is glossier, bigger and more colourful than the Jeff and Josh Special of a few days ago.

The first obvious gap comes on page two of the leaflet (see picture above).

This is a map of the local council wards in this area. New Mills has three wards: New Mills West; New Mills East; and Sett.

Sett Ward's candidate is Tony Ashton.  West Ward has Jeff Lawton and Josh Gaskell.

But what about New Mills East?

The Tory leaflet has no names down as  candidates for this ward.  Do they think they have no chance there?

Conservative planners should be aware that there is a long and proud tradition in England of so-called working-class Tories.

It is a surprising omission.  The Conservatives are usually good planners, and they are the party with the biggest election war chest.

We await further developments.

In the meantime, here is the front page of the glossy colour production:

18 February 2015

Brian Wood Speech Disowned By DALC

Further to HPT articles on the subject of Mr Brian Wood's recent intervention supporting a dishonest former town clerk, Mrs Susan Stevens, DALC have today issued an official statement.

It reads:

"Brian Wood is a former officer of DALC and retired as Secretary/Treasurer in August 2012, therefore has no indemnified authority whatsoever to give advice in this sector.

"Any former position he has held is irrelevant and his views are his own.

"For clarity DALC's remit to its members, as a non profit making organisation, is to represent, train and advise their member parish and town councils, by offering a resource of vital, operational information and facilitating communication at all levels of the parish network - district, county, regional and national.

"DALC is affiliated to the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) who offer the services of a legal team to member parishes/towns, but once a council has employed its own legal representative NALC are unable  for reasons of professional etiquette to be involved."

17 February 2015

Former DALC Man's Statement In Support Of A Dishonest Town Clerk

Regarding the statement of Mr Brian Wood (ex Derbyshire Association of Local Councils) to last Monday's New Mills Town Council meeting (9 February 2015).

In summary, Mr Wood told councillors to 'pay up' to Mrs Stevens, because she was certain to win at the forthcoming Employment Tribunal.

The case is Susan Stevens and Marie Dudley versus New Mills Town Council, due to be heard starting in early March.

Mr Wood stated that he'd sent in a witness statement to the Tribunal.

Chairman of the council Cllr David Lamb, who has seen the legal bundle - agreed by both sides' legal teams - that will be used by the Tribunal, stated that there was no witness statement from Mr Brian Wood in the bundle.

Although apparently contradictory, in fact both of the above statements may be true.  This is because one of the following things may have happened:

1.  Mr Wood has sent a statement to the Tribunal directly.

If this is what has happened, it probably won't be used in the hearing.  This is because witness statements have to be sent to the appropriate solicitor.  In this case, the appropriate solicitor for Mr Wood's statement is GLP Solicitors, who represent Mrs Susan Stevens who has brought the claim against her former employer.

2.  Mr Wood has sent in his statement correctly. i.e. to Mrs Stevens' solicitors, but they have decided not to use it because either it does not help her case at the Tribunal or it actively helps the opposing side.

3.  Mr Wood has sent his statement in correctly, but it was too late in the tribunal process to be used.

Here is the link to the original article at which the assertion of a witness statement by Brian Wood was made:

16 February 2015

The Previously Unpublished Comments

HPT gets occasional complaints that comments to this site which might appear to support the case of Mrs Susan Stevens - the former town clerk of New Mills who was dismissed for gross misconduct - don’t get published.

In fact some do get published.  The main reasons others don’t get published are simple:

1) They contain statements which are straightforwardly false; or 

2) They contain gratuitous personal insults or abuse against people that Susan Stevens (or one of her supporters) appears to have taken against, or blame for Mrs Stevens’ difficulties; or

3) The submitted comment literally makes no sense.

Would all readers please note that another issue with comments is as follows:  one comment with a genuine name attached to it is worth probably twenty ‘anonymous’ comments.

If Susan Stevens or one of her supporters wishes to put their case on these matters properly, then all they have to do is email an article to HPT.

Such a piece will be published on HPT in full, in its own standalone article, without any edits or comments from the Editor.

Such an article has to have the author's name attached to it:  'anonymous' won't cut it.  The only proviso is that anybody named in the article will have a full right of reply in a similar article or named authored comment.

So, hardy little band of Stevens supporters, I await hearing from you with an honest authored piece.


What follows are all the comments received recently that - so far - had not seen the light of day.

None of the following comments or views are endorsed by High Peak Transparency.

The comments are here published in the order of most recent first.  All the comments have been sent in anonymously:

"Re 1313 I am sure mr wood advised a number of council's not just new mills that was his job. How on earth do you know they spoke several times a week, another lie without doubt. Re tall poppies have you finally decided to admit how wrong you were hiring a convicted fraudster and misusing new mills people's money come on Mr ed publish this you are loosing the plot and ignoring the truth"

"This is further to my point about idiots being in high places.And it was Mrs. Gadd that endorsed her!"  (re Nicki Williams)

"Ex Coucillor Three, are the seats on the council non-partician. No political affliation? Thank goodness you are an EX."

"It was DALC who recommended Tall Poppies to the council. They also parachuted in the current clerk,who can't even spell properly,eg 'sort' instead of the correct 'sought', and whose minutes make it almost impossible to work out what on earth is going on.  From personal experience, DALC have given duff advice to another local council, therefore it seems reasonable that anyone should be wary of taking anything anyone from that organisation, past or present, seriously."

"Hiring a convicted fraudster with false references, false qualifications who produced a work of pure fiction and forgery for thousands of pounds of new mills people's money"

"HTP, There loads of idiots in high places. The Tribunal should have been thrown out instead of adjouned! Our rates have gone up and up with the Council idiots in charge covering up their mistakes, watching lead being stolen off the roof having family members working for them and hiring someone to get "rid of the town clerk" not to mention the stream of legal teams. Vote them all out"

"A Miller, because the idiot Councillors want to spend more of Our money on a new barrister to represent them(not the town) in case. That makes Mr. Woods' statement relevant."

"HTP did you mean the current town clerks office?"  (Answer from HPT:  No I didn’t.  And you know I didn't)

"And hired a convicted fraudster with bogus references and qualifications, then payed her with new mills people's money to produce a complete piece of fiction. All true Mr ed, please publish and stop cherry picking"

"HTP Editor, you do fancy yourself and your self importance. I am not a Stevens supported, i am a corrupt council hater. Try printing blogs as written and not how you wish to twist them. Justice will prevail."

"HPT Editor, should your heading at the top not read Former DALC Cheif Offical Makes Speech that makes NMTC Look Like The Fools They Are? There will not be an Employment Tribunal. It will be laughed out of court!"

"HTP, I didn't realise this blog site was about you and your opinions, ha ha ha"

"Dear editor, WTF, who cares if he sent his letter. The solicitors have quit, advising the council to pay out. The idiots want to hire a barrister, they cannot even say why the TC was fired. They paid a crook loads of cash! and MG is worried about a letter being sent! God help us"

"Re1847hrs above, who did you say the gadds were kicking now?"

"Very soon to be ex chair, what a wonderful year he has had, more solicitors letters than operation yewtree, no wonder he twiddles on his piece of string"

"Happy Valentines Day Mr HPT Editor.  You rock my world"  (A marvellous and obviously truthful comment.  Reason for not letting through:  Not relevant to the website)

"Dear HTP Editor, it looks like you are doing some backtracking! Did you bet on the wrong horse? Even the former legal team told the council to pay up! Hell hath no fury ....... "

"I saw Sue Stevens pull her knickers out of her bum. Is that relevant too? Pathetic the lot of you!"  (Published but with asterisks - reason: unwanted visual image)

"With reference to Anon 7:50. Lamb as Chair is another example of the inmates in charge of the asylum! Or the prisoners in charge of the prison or for you simpletons (mg) fox in charge of the chicken coop!"

"The guy is a crook open your eyes 17:45"  (about someone who is not a councillor)

"Dear Mike Kirk, where is the £30,000 to come from? Last I heard that much was paid to Nicki Williams, is there any money left?"  (Not published for two reasons: 1. Cllr Mike Kirk is not responsible for money, the town council is.  2. Nicki Williams has been paid about £12k to date, not £30k)

"Dear Anonymous 21:57 if this is the case why was he not arrested? Or in New Mills is theft legal. I.e. Tall Poppies Ltd. Ltd. Breaking and entering is, ask Councillor Lamb. Prove it or shut it!"

"Yes beth"

"Dear Lyn Bannister we put a message on the festival web site face book page last year about it and you deleted it, if you do not like the bags the children create then do not invite them to create it, my kids do pictures in the veggy cafe now instead."

"You tease HPT ed - its a competition isn't it?  “If you check the days he is a volunteer at the Heritage Centre then you will also still find ***** *****”   LYING THIEF ? "

"I think it sounds like the Cadds by the description, Pinky and Perky indeed, hope they dont start cock fighting too."

"I would rather not see either lance dowsons or jeff lawtons cock anywhere in new mills especially the prom, it would be like the contents of the reject box in a walnut whip factory"

"Mr. Kirk, where is the council going to get the £30,000 for the HC? Is there any funding left from the Tall Poppies fiasco or the need to hire new solicitors to defend their unlawful dismissal case against the former town clerk? Can you also explain why the asbestos is still not being removed from the town hall? Can anyone remember the last time it was brought up in the council chambers and the councillors decided just to "paint over it"? What is really going on?"

"Ex councillor 2, you forgot Mark Gadd and Jacqui Gadd. Biggest time wasters ever!"

"As is Beth Atkins! Another of Jeff Lawton's very good friends!"

"Possibly the new wouldbe councillors will reply to their constituents queries.  The existing ones certainly do not.  .Living in NewMills West I certainly will not vote for the old guard"

"Anon 19:44, I think you mean 'illegal instant dismisal' "

"It is called democracy! The people choose, not the bent Councillors! Hopefully they will vote all of them out of office in next election."


So Mrs Susan Stevens and supporters, it's now up to you.  If you want to put your case across in the open, with no editing or commentary from HPT, then it's simple:  just write a truthful article with your name on and it will be published here.

15 February 2015

Criminal Offence Committed In The Council Chamber At New Mills

On Monday 9 February 2015, Councillor Alistair Stevens spoke to the New Mills town council meeting on the subject of his spouse’s current legal and financial claim against the council.

By doing this, he broke the criminal law.

When Cllr Stevens made his speech to the council, which lasted over five minutes, he was speaking on a matter in which he has a disclosable pecuniary interest.

Cllr Stevens’ disclosable pecuniary interest is his spouse’s current large claim against the council

Mrs Susan Stevens (wife of Cllr Alistair Stevens) is currently claiming a large sum of money from NMTC. This arises from her dismissal from her post as the town clerk of New Mills, from which she was sacked for gross misconduct.

As Mrs Susan Stevens has brought a claim from which she hopes to win a large payout, Cllr Alistair Stevens’ household would benefit financially.  Potentially, this is for a very large amount of money.

Cllr Stevens was warned several times, before he spoke on this matter, that he would be breaking the law if he carried on.  He acknowledged the warnings, which were from the Chairman of the council, and then carried on.

The legal position is set out in in the official government publication ‘Openness and transparency on personal interests: A guide for councillors’

It is available at:

The relevant section of the document reads:

"What does having a disclosable pecuniary interest stop me doing?

"If you are present at a meeting of your council or authority, of its executive or any committee of the executive, or of any committee, sub-committee, joint committee, or joint sub-committee of your authority, and you have a disclosable pecuniary interest relating to any business that is or will be considered at the meeting, you must not:

  • participate in any discussion of the business at the meeting, or if you become aware of your disclosable pecuniary interest during the meeting participate further in any discussion of the business, or
  • participate in any vote or further vote taken on the matter at the meeting.

"These prohibitions apply to any form of participation, including speaking as a member of the public."   (text in government document, emphasis added by HPT)

The reason this law was enacted (Sections 26 -34 inclusive of the Localism Act 2011), and the reason that speaking during a council meeting in these circumstances is a criminal offence,  is so a councillor cannot influence other councillors on any matter before the council from which that councillor may gain financially.

14 February 2015

Former DALC Chief Officer Makes Speech That Helps Dishonesty and Incompetence In Town Clerk's Office

Not Brian Wood (fifth from left)

At the last New Mills Town Council meeting, on 9 February 2015, a long speech was given by Mr Brian Wood in the public speaking section.

Mr Wood is the former Chief Officer of the Derbyshire Association of Local Councils ('DALC'). This organisation is a general resource for town and parish councils in Derbyshire.  Its umbrella body is NALC, the national association likewise.

On present evidence Mr Wood's speech appears wholly irrelevant to the substantive matter before the upcoming employment tribunal that he is talking about.

However, HPT reports it below, so the public can assess it for themselves.

Dramatis personae:
Brian Wood (Former Chief Officer of DALC)
Cllr David Lamb, Chair of the New Mills town council
Cllr Alistair Stevens
Cllr Lance Dowson
Cllr Andy Bowers
Cllr Beth Atkins (New Mills and Hayfield member of Derbyshire County Council)
Cllr Mike Kirk

Brian Wood:   Mr Chairman my name is Brian Wood.  I wish to share with you, in relation to item 26, item 25 now item 26 on the Agenda (see Note 1 below) the fact that I have provided a witness statement to the Stevens versus New Mills Town Council (See Note 2 below) Tribunal which starts next month.

BW  I am an independent person who has spent over fifty years in local government, latterly twelve years with the Derbyshire Association of Local Councils who you will know gives legal advice and others to parish councils in Derbyshire.

BW  Without a doubt, (dramatic pause) New Mills Town Council have either been very badly advised…

Chairman Cllr David Lamb:  Can I just stop you one second…

(Several people speaking at once)

Cllr Alistair Stevens: …public speaking.  (to Brian Wood)  Carry on.

DL  I beg your pardon, I’ve got a list of witness statements.  You don’t appear on that.

BW  My witness statement is in

DL  And who have you sent it in to?

BW  To the Tribunal.  (Pause)  It doesn't really matter does it.  I mean now you've told me it’s not in I’ll make sure it is.  ‘Cos the statement is prepared and has been submitted.

(Several people speaking at once)

DL  Can I just say that as far as I'm aware there’s no… we haven’t seen one.

BW  I’ll put that right that’s no problem.  Without a doubt, New Mills Town Council have been badly advised, or any advice available has been ignored, err in respect of the due regard to the law and good practice in this case with particular reference to section 101 of the Local Government Act (see Note 3 below) and its implementation…

Cllr Lance Dowson:  (Interrupting)  Sorry Chair, is a statement being made or advice given? Because we rely on advice from properly qualified legal professionals.

AS  Statement being made.  Why are you interrupting public speaking Councillor Dowson?

(People speaking at once)

LD   I'm just asking the question, it sounds like as though we’re being given advice…  and I'm just questioning, is it appropriate for us to be receiving advice from a member of the public in public speaking?

AS  (Inaudible)

BW  You know the rules Lance.  You know the rules.  Public speaking, I'm entitled to say whatever I like, whenever I like… You’re technically not expected to reply.

AS  Yeah.  Yeah!

LD  Technically it’s members of the public talking about items on the agenda

Unknown person:  DALC!

LD It sounded as though you were talking… we've been mis-advised and you’re giving us advice.  I was just questioning…

BW  Well you must have been, if what’s happened has happened, Lance in my opinion.

LD  Well that’s your opinion

(People talking at once)

Cllr Andy Bowers:  Chair, hang on.  (To Brian Wood) In what capacity are you here?

BW  As a member of the public

AB  Where do you live?

(People talking at once)

AB  Where do you live?

Unknown person:  It doesn't matter.

BW  I live at Matlock

AB  Well what are you doing here?

BW  I'm here because I'm genuinely interested…

AB  Are you qualified to be doing what you’re doing now?

Cllr Beth Atkins  Yes.

LD  (to Cllr Beth Atkins, LD indicating displeasure)  Sorry!

AB  Are you qualified?

BA  He is

LD  (to Cllr Beth Atkins, LD indicating displeasure)  Sorry!

(People talking at once)

BW  What qualifications do you think I need to make a statement…

(People talking at once)

DL  Councillor Kirk

Cllr Mike Kirk  Firstly, we’re starting to waste time.  Stopwatch…  Thank you.  Secondly he’s giving an opinion.  It doesn't matter whether his opinion is qualified or not.  And ‘public’ means… it doesn't matter where he lives.  he could have come from Dumfries and it doesn't matter.  I want to hear what he’s got to say.

(Some people)  Go on then.

AS  (To Brian Wood)  Start again, I would suggest.

BW  Do you want me to repeat the last sentence… ‘cos that seems to have upset people really.

BW  All I'm saying is that, on the information I have, the council have not made due regard to the ACAS disciplinary code err… in its application.  Erm… councillors, not even the chairperson of the town council, nor a third party, have any legal right to carry out any administrative duty in a town council.  And you can look that up in the (indistinct) if you like.  I've got the reference here, it’s not a problem.  You can look that up.  The information can easily be verified by the Local Government Act.  And I’d be very very surprised if your legal officer has not brought that to your attention.

BW  The other thing I would say is that… I would submit to you that in the same circumstances as this case, in the last case in Derbyshire, the case was found against the council on exactly the same grounds that New Mills find themselves in.  That’s another indication.

BW  It is not my place to question the merits or otherwise of why New Mills Town Council in their wisdom chose to discipline the clerk.  That is not for me.  I have no interest in that.  All I'm saying is, that on the precedents quoted, on the information we have, then it’s patently obvious that the wrong procedures have been adopted by the wrong people and you are wasting public money taking this to a tribunal ‘cos you've no chance of winning at this stage.

BW  I'm really, really surprised, and I ask you a question.  Has this been confirmed by your solicitors? And by your insurance company?  Because.  There is a overwhelming case that public money should not be wasted.  And all you are doing is throwing public money down the drain.  Good after bad.

BW  And it follows therefore, and obviously I’ll be brief, I’ll keep within my three minutes, it follows that in my opinion the town council because of the abuse of public office and misuse of public money should decide tonight in your confidential item, now item 26, that you should prepare to settle immediately, get this off the hands of the New Mills people because it’s costing them a lot of money that should have been spent elsewhere.


Note 1:  The agenda item Mr Wood refers to in his speech reads: “Council consideration for funding towards additional legal support for the Employment Tribunal and the engagement of a Barrister”.

Note 2:  The case is Susan Stevens and Marie Dudley versus New Mills Town Council.

Note 3.  There are a number of Local Government Acts. Which one, if any, is Mr Wood trying to refer to?

We shall be publishing detailed analysis of Mr Wood's speech in due course, in a separate article.

In the meantime, Mr Wood's verbatim words at the 9 February 2015 New Mills town council meeting are now in the public domain via the above transcript on HPT.

11 February 2015

Let the scaremongering begin

Emergency services are on full alert.

Local activists are standing by ready to give whatever assistance is needed. Petitions must be started to avert the catastrophe. A public meeting will have to be called to fight this iniquity. Ladies of a certain age have started to pass out with shock, and local stocks of smelling salts are running out.

But what is the crisis that is urgently calling for attention?

They say the Heritage Centre in New Mills is going to be shut down.  Black-hearted councillors who only have evil in their hearts: shutting the local Heritage Centre is the latest sinful adventure on the ocean of depravity sailed by these public representatives.

Surely the councillors are going to open a brothel when the Heritage Centre is shut down by the council.  That can be the only explanation.  That is definitely why the Heritage Centre is going to be closed.  They need the space.  For a brothel. Or a drinking club for these monstrous councillors to all get together and smoke evil-smelling cigars and laugh at the good people.  Or perhaps the councillors are planning New Mills’ first opium den.

There is not a scintilla of doubt about it: the die is cast. The Heritage Centre of New Mills will soon be just a fond memory.

Is there nothing these dark, wicked councillor people will stop at? The town of New Mills has obviously been completely ruined by the malevolence of these evil denizens of the town hall. They've been scheming their schemes, all to this dire and immoral end.  And they only needed four years to achieve it.

The Heritage Centre must be saved!  Oh, who will help us in our hour of need in this shocking disaster?  Like the alcoholic Welsh warbler of old, Bonnie Tyler, we are holding out for a hero to save us.

So hold on.  Let us rewind, and coolly examine the facts.

How did this start?  This particular scaremongering originates from a grumble sheet recently published by Jeff Lawton and Josh Gaskell of the High Peak Conservatives.

‘Grumble sheet’ is the shorthand that political parties use among themselves for that part of their promotional literature which is distributed to the local electorate to gather information about local issues of concern, and so gain support in upcoming elections.

The political campaigning of Jeff and Josh, on behalf of High Peak Conservatives at the next local council elections, has got off to a shockingly bad start with this one.

Here are actual text extracts from the story that leads the grumble sheet:

“New Mills West Ward. ‘In Touch’.  From Jeff Lawton and Josh Gaskell.”

“Jeff and Josh lead the fight to save the Heritage Centre”

“Jeff has been involved with the Centre since 1992”

“Under the current administration, some town councillors are wanting to either relocate the Centre to the remote and inaccessible High Lee Hall, or scrap the well-loved facility altogether.”

So following the written statements made in In Touch as above, here are three open and genuine requests to Jeff Lawton and Josh Gaskell.  Tell the electorate now:

1) Who are the town councillors who want to scrap the well-loved facility altogether?

2) On what date has any New Mills town council discussion taken place where closure of the Heritage Centre was either on the agenda or discussed by the council?

3) Tell us where is the town council resolution - which by law must be in the minutes of the council - to either close the Heritage Centre, or even suggest closure of the Heritage Centre.

You can do this by emailing your answers to the above three simple questions to highpeaktransparency@btconnect.com. Your replies will be published here on HPT.

We look forward to hearing from you.


Jeff and Josh needn't feel as if their grumble sheet has been unfairly singled out.  We eagerly await the latest grumble sheet from a certain political party in New Mills that in recent years has spent a lot of its time in the gutter.

10 February 2015

New Mills Heritage Centre: A Point of View

Residents interested in the New Mills Heritage and Information Centre may be interested in the following extracts from correspondence between a reader and HPT Editor.

First, HPT ‘s reply to an earlier email, in which the email's author has expressed concern about the way the Heritage Centre is being run and has asked for a response from HPT editor about NMTC "slagging off" the HC:

Hello (HPT Reader)

I don't have any comment to make on your email. I suppose the following points could reasonably be made:

1. I have been present at many town council meetings.  I have never heard the Heritage Centre slagged off (or anything similar) in a TC meeting

2. The Heritage Centre cannot exist without the substantial financial support of New Mills town council.  NMTC gets that money from the council taxpayers.

3. NMTC's name is on the property lease, and NMTC is legally responsible for the rent and for all costs of the HC property.

If you or someone else wants to publicise any genuine complaints about the way HC is run, why not write an article?  I'd be happy to publish it on HPT (subject to scrutinising it first, obviously).  Such an article would be seen by a lot of people who are interested in public life in New Mills and surrounds

Best wishes, Steve, HPT Editor

The reply came as follows.  Some small edits have been made by HPT to preserve the desired anonymity of the correspondent:

(To HPT Editor)

"While I totally agree with you about points 2 and 3, which have been the arrangements since the Heritage Centre was set up, there is no doubt whatsoever that the current NMTC are acting totally out of order with regard to the management of the Centre. If you are not sure of the history of the way it was set up, including, of course, its funding, then I can fill you in.

"I sent you a copy of the constitution, and you will see that the way the council are interfering is totally at odds with it. After all, the Heritage Centre ran perfectly well, funded as we all know by the TC as it always has been, including lease/rent etc, until Jill Hulme resigned as administrator and Sue Stevens then parachuted Marie Dudley into that job, manipulating Marie's hours and deceiving the council.

"Since all councillors at the time refused to admit that Sue Stevens was doing anything wrong, (several people) felt they had no alternative but to resign from the Management Committee despite long service.

"The council are making a big fuss about what the Heritage Centre is costing, despite the fact that they have bankrolled it ever since it began, and I can't understand why.

"I am still firmly of the opinion that if the council wish to change any of the arrangements to manage the Heritage Centre they must vote to cancel the current constitution which they themselves authorised.

"What also completely defeats me is that all councillors are colluding in allowing Alistair Stevens to be chairman of the management committee. They should have sidelined him a long time ago, as it is his wife who has been responsible for all the trouble. He almost never attended meetings when he was a simple member (preferring cricket practice), and in fact, so rarely that I didn't even realise he was a member at all!

"However, it now appears David Lamb interferes in every single aspect of the management of the Heritage Centre, even to the extent of having emails diverted, and even though he has no official right to be involved, since he is not a member of the management committee. Sorry, but I have a very jaundiced view of even those councillors who are left after Ashton, Barrow and Huddlestone left the (adjective and noun).

"Since you post articles based on what you have been told by insiders and other informants, I am not sure why it is you expect me to write an article (reasons given why not to write an article)."


The above person has asked for anonymity, which we have respected.  Any submitted comment which contains any guesses or suggestions about the possible authorship of the above will not be published.

Detailed model of New Mills at the time the Union Road bridge was constructed.
Try to get anything like that through planning now!

James Hall Resignation Letter

Below is the resignation letter sent by former councillor James Hall to New Mills Town Council.

The resignation was announced at last night's New Mills Town Council meeting (9 February 2015)

Mr Hall has sent a copy of his letter to HPT and asked that it be published:

"To New Mills Town Council,

"With regret and with immediate effect I resign my position of councillor from the council. This is due to a number of reasons which I will explain below.

"The first being that due to changes at my work I will be away from home a lot more. This means that I cannot commit to be at enough meetings to make a significant contribution to the running of the council and therefore I feel that my position could be taken by someone else who can commit the time that this position deserves.

"The second would be that I still do not believe that the whole council is committed to being an equal body with all members involved with the decision making process and that certain members feel that they are able to make decisions and commitments for the council outside of the correct procedure. There are no “leaders” and there should only be a hierarchy within the meeting process so that we get a well-run meeting with a proper agenda and process.

"The final point is what I consider to be the main issue; this is a lack of a commitment to transparency within the council. Progress has been made but whilst the council cannot be open with what has gone on in the past then I cannot see how it will be open and transparent in the future. This I believe has to change but I cannot see that happening in the near future and so I do not wish to be associated with a body that continues to hide or conceal things from the people they are supposed to serve and then hide behind jargon about “legal” advice, and not then provide that same “legal” advice to other members of the council so that they can understand the decision. When a simple answer, that would stop the questions and rumours, would be best then that is what the council should give. It might not make pleasant reading to some but it would be in my opinion the best for New Mills as a whole.

"I wish the remaining councillors all the best for the future.
James Hall"

03 February 2015

Resignation at New Mills town council

James Hall has resigned from the office of councillor in New Mills.

This leaves the town council with 11 members.  The news slipped out by virtue of the following being included in the draft minutes of the 26 January 2015 council meeting:

"Council were asked if the resignation letter by former councillor J Hall was read out. (sic)  It was asked to go into correspondence at the next full town council meeting correspondence section."

We understand that, broadly, ex-councillor James Hall had appeared to align himself with the discredited local councillor Alistair Stevens.  Alleged councillor Stevens' wife Susan Stevens was sacked as town clerk of New Mills for gross misconduct.

However, Mr Hall had not attended a town council meeting for some time, despite being summoned to the council meetings in the normal way.

As the resignation has happened within six months of forthcoming full council elections, there is no legal requirement to hold a costly by-election to fill this vacancy.