More “goings on” in Mid Devon

Conspiracy theories abound, should they send for Jackie Weaver or just check the spam filter? – Owl

Call to end council ‘nonsense’ in Cullompton

Lewis Clarke www.devonlive.com 

Cullompton Town Council has been told it cannot continue with ‘nonsense’ after complaints about its procedures and communication with the public.

Speaking in public question time at Cullompton Town Council’s previous meeting, former member of the council, Mike Thompson said that recorded documents had not been sent to members with enough time before meetings.

He said: “At the resources meeting on September 9, the clerk was challenged on the matter and admitted she had got it wrong for a number of years, therefore, it was not a proper meeting.

“There were apologies made by the clerk, and suggested the meeting be rearranged for another date, which it was.

“I went onto the council website to check the agenda to summon people to this meeting, and the attached documents as required in legislation. Appendices were missing, but now, several documents have been created three days before this meeting.

“After this was cleared and raised at resources, it appears, this council is permitting a vagrant breach of rules and regulation.”

He addressed the chair Katheryn Haslett adding: “Owing to that meeting on September 9, I sent an email stating my concerns over the breach of the summonsing and documents as raised by Councillor James Buczkowski.

“I asked you to reply to me in person, and have an investigation. As stated, I was not making a formal complaint at that moment in time.

“You had an opportunity to reply or phone me out of courtesy and discuss the matter. I have had no replies. I sent a second email to you, and sent two to the deputy to the mayor. I have not had a satisfactory reply.

“I have sent an email to all councillors giving them an opportunity to say what is wrong, where have we gone wrong and what we do to correct it. What is the risk to the council? What is our legal obligations?

“Either my emails are being blocked by a snooper who is well documented, and I know who it is, or emails are being tampered with and being diverted away from those receiving them.

“This needs to be cleared up. I have made a complaint to the ICO and am now considering malpractice in public office on the council as a whole.”

Cllr Haslett said she had received no emails, despite Mr Thompson pointing out he had sent it to both her council and personal addresses.

She said: “I am aware there are particular things you put in with your emails that must be getting filtered.

“If you wish to contact me I would suggest from now on you do it in writing and drop it into the office so we do not have this problem again.”

Cllr Buczkowski added: “We are following the legislation surrounding supporting documents. In regards to the council’s own rules, councillors and members of the public have a reasonable expectation that we will follow our own rules and sadly we are seriously failing on that.

“I raised a point earlier that we need to take immediate and decisive action to correct our wrongdoings in not following our own rules.

“This council resolved on September 27, 2018, that all supporting papers must be sent out with the agenda within three clear days. It’s not so much we’re not following legislation; we’re breaking our own rules which some may argue is even worse. We need to follow our own rules, or something needs to be put to us to say why we can’t follow them.

“We cannot continue with this nonsense any longer.”

Councillor Gordon Guest said it was ‘very confusing’ that papers were being received in ‘dribs and drabs’.

“I’m on a number of committees at Devon County and other places and that doesn’t happen, you get everything at once,” he said.

“It’s confusing when we have a range of appendices coming forward in two or three different emails and it’s hard to follow everything.”

Councillor Chris Snow added: “If we’re missing documents and they’re late coming, it doesn’t give us a lot of time to make informed decisions.

“Five clear days under legislation is quite reasonable and I think we should follow it.”

More criticism to the council was made about items not appearing on agendas.

Cllr Buczkowski added: “During our last full council meeting it was agreed that the question of additional planting of trees on Tiverton Road be passed to the community and wellbeing committee for consideration. At the last committee meeting some time after the meeting it was not on the agenda, nor was it discussed.

“I raised this at the meeting and the deputy clerk informed the committee that they did not know anything about it. It amazed me.

“It is very concerned about the robustness of the process that ensures issues are dealt with and officers are fully informed. I cannot understand why we have an action list, and we are making decisions, yet the deputy clerk knew nothing about it when it was relevant to her committee.”

Cllr Buczkowski also raised concerns regarding the two charities the council manages.

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