Thursday, 19 June 2008

Maltby Town Council In Disarray

After the exposure of the divisions and dispute within Maltby Town Council at the Annual General Meeting on 21st May, it was difficult to believe that further disruption, accusations and splits could be possible. A letter from Kevin Barron MP, had already criticised the council for delaying a cheque to the Maltby Festival Committee and complained about the way in which the council was being run.
But more allegations were possible. And they were shown at the Town Council Meeting, held on 18th June at Addison Day Centre.

The meeting began with questions from the public, which were related to the Maltby Master Plan Consultation Document, Tarran estate, and the green space of the former Craggs School site. A member of the public then accused Cllr K Stringer of casting aspersions on his fellow council members, through his recent publication of a poem in a local newspaper and demanded that Cllr Stringer either resign or be dismissed. Cllr Stringer responded with the words “who gives a damn” which inflamed both councillors and public and the meeting began to resemble a baiting tournament. This member of the public was encouraged to sit down and keep quiet – Cllr L Stringer shouting that he be removed from the meeting.

Further public questioning centred around the Edward Dunn building and it’s uses, users and key holders and the allegation that minutes have been misinterpreted and falsified. The meeting, which had an Agenda of 24 items, then moved on to number 2.
The Chair, Cllr Ben Slade announced that he had received apologies, and was inserting an item into the Agenda. This brought uproar from Councillors A M Laird, L Laird, K Stringer and J Andrews, with them declaring that this was “out of order” and not ethical within the meeting, where the public and press were still present. The Clerk, Mr D J Morton and his assistant said that three days notice should have been given for this. Cllr Slade, backed by other councillors, stated that as he was The Chair he could and would determine the running of the meeting.

Cllr Ben Slade then stated that he had taken independent legal advice and that it had been recommended that he make the following proposal. Reading from a letter Cllr Slade said that he proposed that Mr Morton, in his capacity as Clerk to The Council, be called to a disciplinary hearing on Friday 20th June, and that he be suspended on full pay with immediate effect, pending the result of this meeting. This proposal was seconded and voted on at 8 to 4 by the council.
Pandemonium then ensued with some councillors registering their protests as The Clerk collected together his paperwork and left the room with his assistant. The Chair declared that the meeting was suspended and four councillors hurriedly made their exit, with one shouting abuse at the remaining councillors and public whilst pointing a finger and threatening a member of the press.

It now remains to be seen what will be the outcome of this sorry state of affairs within Maltby Town Council. That there are more than one “side” to the scenario is clear – which is right, true, legal or for the good of Maltby residents, the future will tell. That rumours, arguments and opinions have been brought into the open is perhaps a good thing. The way that this has been done is maybe not so good.

The move forward for Maltby, it’s residents and council seems an arduous task just now.