Letter from: Coun Paul Gilson, Leigh Town Council
SIR, Dictators and Juntas, in local politics.
When a long-established dictatorship or junta is over-thrown or changed by democracy, the old guard often cry foul saying such things as, the vote was rigged, the voters did not know who they were voting for, residents should revolt at the threat of change etc.
For more than ten previous years, the old guard had run Leigh Town Council without the public having been informed of how things were really operating.
Various Clerks have left under a cloud without the public knowing what had happened. Chairmen resigned, councillors left midterm, apparently good staff disappearing etc.
Council meetings are currently being disrupted at Leigh Town Council, so that very little business is being conducted properly or efficiently. The old political guard are thought to be behind such disruptive meetings, having fed slanted facts and disinformation to the residents verbally, through the local press and on social media platforms, such as Facebook and X.
Recently even the new LTC locum Town Clark has been subjected to this behaviour.
The newly elected, mainly Conservative, council members are attempting to look into how the Community Centre and its staff are being utilised and what such roles and responsibilities actually encompass.
Very importantly, the finances of LTC’s budgets, expenditures and incomes are also being looked into however; obtaining prompt and correct financial information has recently met with several difficulties.
Currently the Town Clark is under suspension and this highly confidential situation is being used by the old guard to berate many council members, by continuing to press for the release of confidential information, which is clearly not possible.
The demands for that information, while knowing they cannot have it, is only being done to grand stand. The so called chaos is being created by some councillors, and ill-informed headline grabbing SC Councillors and residents who want to over turn democracy.
Letter from: Coun Alan Hart, Leigh Town Council
SIR, Chairman of Leigh Town Council Cllr Arscott must be very insecure in his role if he continues to find it necessary to ‘put the record straight’!
It must be seen as encouraging that there are plans for future events, considering how little has been done for the people of Leigh in the past 8 or 9 months.
Briefly regarding the confidential staffing matters, the Councillor refers to the five strong Staffing Committee whose members cannot be involved in any adjudication. He is correct in the assumption that those members have prior knowledge of the complaints against the Town Clerk, however the committee consists of 7 members, not 5.
In the light of the process of political groupings meeting outside of Council, how can it be trusted that any of the thirteen party councillors are in ignorance?
With that outside meeting having clearly decided on all committee membership before the formal adoption last year, it beggars belief that any party councillor can be impartial.
Four of these also appear on Finance and Governance committee, contaminating that team responsible for any financial aspect of the suspension. It can be concluded that the party group have no idea how to stop the ball they released from rolling downhill.
Referring equally briefly to the ‘accusation’ of fraud and resultant forensic audit, the auditors report can be seen on line under the agenda of the January meeting and absolves all involved of any discrepancy. Any recommendations for improvement are minimal, but Coun Arscott found it necessary to temper his pleasure at the lack of evidence of fraudulent activity by highlighting ‘a number of issues’.
I have no wish to revisit the original statement by a councillor last September, the recording of his words can be heard on line. That councillor remains in post.
At the risk of repeating myself, the Chairman’s insistence that LTC has ‘always been political’ is not borne out by the intentions of the worthy Mr King who set up the Council to be a forum ‘by the people for the people’ in the 90’s. As a poster once said – ‘Leigh Town Council needs politics like it needs a hole in the head’. Nuff said!
Locum Town Clerks have been appointed, effectively, by the political group and the reason they have been unable to carry out normal duties like minutes and publishing answers to questions is that the group take up all their time with conferences. Perhaps again a sign of lack of confidence and/or training?
Finally to the elections, personally I polled twice the votes of the Conservative candidate in St James ward, 66% of the votes cast and it should be recalled that nine of the present Councillors were unopposed, leaving only four successful at the poll. Three non-aligned candidates were also elected.
As stated above, I look forward to future events and trust that the budget for the years ahead will include adequate funding reserves to pay for these. Time will tell!
Incidentally Mr Chairman, you will not hear the public view if you eliminate the whole audience at meetings due to the fractious intervention of the few!
Let us hope that the record needs no more straightening.
Letter from: Stuart Allen, Torquay Drive, Leigh
SIR, I was hugely disappointed with the conduct of some councillors at the Leigh Town Council full council meeting on Tuesday January 16.
What seemed to start as a productive and collaborative meeting turned into an absolute farce that was on-par with Handforth Parish Council.
What appeared to put the cat amongst the pigeons was a concerned residents’ point of how much the on-going suspension of our Town Clerk is costing the taxpayer. Based on the limited costing that is currently available, the costs to the taxpayer have been calculated to be in excess of £60k since August.
This resident was threatened to be removed, causing genuine upset in the room from councillors (Tory and Non-aligned) and other residents. The meeting was suspended and the public were banished from the building with the police being called.
This meant that the rest of the agenda, including, the incorrect budget that determines the precept, was held behind closed doors without the public being able to scrutinise.
I, and the other residents of Leigh, expect more from some of our town councillors and hope they reflect on the meeting and learn to read the mood from residents. This is nothing to do with politics, it is ensuring the councillors are respectful to each other and residents – and when serious concerns are quite rightly raised about budgets and ongoing costs, that they are dealt with in a professional and gracious manner.
I hope that a line can be drawn and all councillors can work together with residents for the benefit of Leigh.
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