Council News

Town Council Meeting: No public discussion on past council internal strife

SOME 35 people turned up and squeezed into the Council Chamber for the Hedon Town Council meeting last night, which was the first public participation meeting since the resignations of Jim Lindop and Ann Suggit from the council in November 2013.

Hedon Town Council logo - NoticeboardCouncil Resignations: Whilst the majority of the public audience at the Town Hall seemed to have turned up hoping to discuss some of the issues surrounding the resignations, they left disappointed as Town Mayor and council Chairman John Dennis refused to allow discussion on what he deemed were personal issues between councillors, some of which he said were ‘sub-judice’ and under legal consideration.

Jim Lindop, had attempted to raise an issue but at the first mention of Ann Suggit’s name his comments were cut short by Cllr Dennis. Jim Lindop did get to criticise comments made by Cllr Dennis previously alluding to ‘no crisis’ in the council, he said that five complaints against Hedon Town Councillors made to the East Riding Council Standards Committee suggested otherwise.

Councillor Dennis again emphasised that personal grievances were not the business of the Town Council. Mrs Joanna Richardson the Town Clerk said that complaints against Town Councillors were the responsibility of the East Riding Council Standards Committee to deal with.

NOTE: If raising comments below regarding this issue, please do not simply repeat material that has already appeared on the Hedon Blog. 

Other issues raised (in summary) responding to questions at the public meeting:

Horsewell Pond: Cllr Alan Marshall, Chair of the Property Committee, explained the historical reasons why Horsewell Pond had dried up, and explained the current moves to return water to the pond. Steve Gallant one of the candidates in the current by-election asked why the budget to restore Horsewell Pond had been cut, when as a one-off payment it would have helped to create a habitat that could help safeguard newts and wildlife in the area.

Cllr Dennis explained that the budget had not been chopped, merely reduced. There wasn’t any disagreement about returning water to the pond.

Jim Lindop said that 25kg of daffodil bulbs had been planted at the site (whilst he was still a Councillor) and he’d left the council with a report on the status of the Horsewell Pond project on the day of his resignation.

By-election Costs: Ann Suggit said residents would not be happy know that £5,000 pounds of council funds were being spent on the current by-election. Cllr Dennis said that the Town Council had been criticised for not issuing polling cards at the by-election held last year. This year with two seats vacant, it was felt necessary to spend the extra £3,000 this incurred.

Disabled Access: Steve Gallant asked why the project to make the Town Hall accessible to the disabled had only been allocated £4,000 towards it? And now the council was considering taking out a loan for the rest! For a few pennies on the Council Tax per household, per week, this could have been completed in full.

Cllr Dennis responded that spending upto £20,000 on the project, when it was not certain that it could go ahead, was unwise. By allocating a smaller figure it meant the council could re-visit the project and in the case of it going ahead could decide to take out a loan to complete it.

Hearing Loop: Jim Uney expressed his support to Cllr Sarah Rommell for trying to get an upgrade to the hearing loop system at the Town Hall. He couldn’t see the benefits of the current system and was upset by it. After hearing about Mr Uney’s concerns Cllr Rommell had tried to help, she said it was quite undignified to expect people with hearing aids to have to sit with a device around their necks.

The council maintains that the current system has been tested and works.

Dog Fouling: From the Hedon Blog we reported that there had not been a single fixed penalty notice issued for dog fouling in this area (SW Holderness) over the last two years. However, Hedon Town Council is to be involved in an East Riding dog control project that will help parish and town councils tackle the problem. We asked if this would offer any new advice to the public.

Mrs Richardson the Town Clerk said that one conference had been held to date and it was all about what councils need to be looking out for when trying to tackle the problem. In short when people report dog fouling to the East Riding Council, they need to include far more information than currently; especially the names of offenders and the times that offences take place.

The telephone number to call to report Dog Fouling is (01482) 396301. The Town Clerk says she has key-rings and give-aways available with this number on (contact Hedon Town Council).

25 replies »

  1. In November last year I reported that work had to be carried out on Horsewell Pond to dig out weeds and reeds and that I had BP RUFC lined up to carry out the work, I followed this up at the recent public participation meeting saying the time to carry out work was from November until late Feb or early March, when newts and frogs where not there. The council decided to wait for the chairman of the property comm to report, which he did at the council meeting last Thursday. He said the pond is a mess, the animals are in there, spring has sprung, we will have to have a bush drive to get them out in may, as no work can start until late in the year and then they will dig it out again. I again contacted Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and they have confirmed as I have said on numerous occasions no work can be done until all frogs and newts especially the protected Great Crested Newt have gone, which will now be November, so the opportunity has been missed again by this council to progress the restoration of the pond that was started three years ago.

  2. JIM LINDOP has written to the Hedon Blog on this matter:

    I agree with Ray in regard to the atmosphere, mood and attitude are not represented in the minute, however there is no mention of the questions that were asked.

    I agree with Neils comments, poor behaviour once again when councillors avoid you in the street, they should be named then the public would know who not to vote for at the next election, Neil will have my support at the election.

    Missing minutes

    Much has been said and written about the well-attended public participation meeting (approx 40 plus residents) held at the end of January, in Hedon Town Hall.

    Minutes of the Public Participation Meeting have been posted on the Hedon Town Council web-site, I may be wrong but I have never seen this before and others have made the same observation. Yet the very brief minutes do not include any mention of the questions that criticised the council or any councillor.

    Quite a few questions were asked, all of which were either ignored by the council or councillor in question, no answers given or the mayor attempted to stop the question, Cllr Ann Suggit and many others had their hands raised but never got the chance to ask their question. The few questions that were asked are not shown within the minutes.

    Mr Redmore said in his letter “it was clear the council were united in silence in response to questions asked by residents on the night”, and “ it was clear in the councillors lack of direct eye contact with the public in attendance that our presence was less than welcome”, and “the order of the night was evasive, dismissive and condescending to those who managed to get any responses to questions raised”.

    If the council have not already done so, they will at a future meeting have someone propose the minutes as a true record, this will then be seconded and then voted on.

    I believe the minutes in no way tell the true story of what happened, the questions asked and what was said, they are not a true record and should be expunged, and the truth written.

    Jim Lindop Former Cllr and Mayor

  3. Hedon Town Council has published minutes of the Public Participation Meeting. This text is taken from the copy posted on the Town Council’s website at Agendas and Minutes.

    Typical minutes from a town or parish council meeting are not a verbatim record of everything that goes on, but a summary of decisions taken, actions determined or advice given. They would not ordinarily summarise the discussion and debate leading up to a resolution.

    The same approach to taking these kind of action-orientated minutes at a public meeting – where emotions are running high, with the potential for verbal conflict, and where residents want their feelings recorded – I feel is not useful. It leads to accusations that opinion hasn’t been properly captured.

    In my view, bearing in mind the above, then the Minutes below are undoubtedly accurate, but I feel will frustrate those residents who wanted the atmosphere, mood and attitude of the public participation session recorded.

    Minutes and Agendas from Hedon Town Council are available to view (minutes have to be approved first) on the Town Council website, at http://www.hedon.gov.uk/Core/Hedon-Town-Council/Pages/Agendas__and__Minutes_2.aspx

    Minutes of the Proceedings of A Public Participation Meeting

    23RD JANUARY 2014

    (Prior to and during the meeting the Chairman reminded those present that issues relating to individual members could not be discussed due to ongoing legal proceedings)

    1. 1) Dog Fouling – The Town Clerk gave details of reporting procedures via East Riding of Yorkshire Council.
    2. 2) Horsewell Pond – Cllr. A. Marshall gave an update on progress and future plans.

     
    The Town Clerk informed those present that if any member of the public wished to raise any issues relating to Councillor conduct that they should report these matters to the Standards Committee.

    1. 3) Hearing Loop – refer to Property Committee.
    2. 4) By-Election costs – The Chairman explained that the Town Council had been criticised for not issuing polling cards at the By-Election held last year and with two seats being vacant this year it was felt prudent to provide polling cards to residents.
    3. 5) Land at Haven Arms – used by the Haven Public house for picnic tables and “bouncy castles” – refer to Property Committee.

     
    Meeting closed at 7.33pm.

    • This is ridiculous , these minutes are totally misleading as to what went on , whether accurate or not, seems the council not satisfied with there already tarnished image with the public are now setting out to completely ignore public feeling and hide what’s really going on. Ive asked for comment from councillors on this and many subjects in the last few weeks , ive received not one response publicly. Seems to me i am personally being ignored by the very people who should be fighting my corner One councillor who shall remain nameless even crossed the street to avoid speaking to me the other day. I trust the people of Hedon and surrounding areas will remember this show of non transparency in 2015 at the next elections. I would like to announce i shall (health permitting) be standing for both Hedon town council and ERYC as an independent member. its time the people had someone who believes in transparency and honesty to represent them. Anyone else wishing to help me in my fight to restore faith in our elected governing bodies please feel free to email me to discuss.

      • Go for it Neil you sound like just what the council need. I lasted a couple of years but gave up feeling very dis-heartened. It was an experience I enjoyed in the beginning but quickly became something I didn’t sign up for. I just wanted to do something good for the town I love but ended up listening to petty squables. I’m glad I left when I did.

        • Thanks for your support Sarah , im hoping if we can get enough to stand we can change that merry go round ,which seems to go on regardless of what the people think. Im almost embarrassed at some of the behaviour ive seen recently

  4. I totally agree with Ann Suggit the people were ignored at best, im surprised at the blog not repeating the letter in full as it was printed in the Gazette I know Ray and have a lot of time for him however people are starting to question the constant change of policy regards naming and not naming, anonymity and non anonymity (hope that’s spelt right) I do believe ray is acting in good faith but do feel he should make a firm policy and stick to it especially when the blog is sponsored by some of the people involved this leaves people thinking there may be a hidden agenda and leaves something of a bad taste.
    I don’t believe all the council are involved in what’s gone on but i do believe they should all stand down and there should be a full election only then can our ancient council gain back the respect of the people and some dignity.
    Transparency is in question and its not helped by the council not wanting to discuss the matter, If David Cameron were accused of bullying would the sun not be allowed to discuss it and ask questions in there pages ….would the politics show ignore it if Nick Clegg turned his back on the prime minister at the remembrance day service , I think not. I was told certain councillors were afraid for there own safety …if this is true i want to know what is meant by this and who is making such threats….its called democracy….most of the council are reading our words on here and choosing to ignore us. They will not be ignoring us next may i can assure you of that.

  5. Ann Suggit, former Hedon Town Councillor and current East Riding Councillor has submitted the following letter to the Hedon Blog. It responds to a letter printed in the Hull Daily Mail and the Holderness Gazette written by Hedon Town Clerk Mrs Joanna Richardson. Ann’s letter below titled ‘United in silence’ has also been published in the previously mentioned publications.

    As Editor of the Hedon Blog, I’ve opted NOT to publish all of the letter – it does cover subject matters which Councillor John Dennis referred to at the public participation meeting as being ‘personal grievances’, and which Ann Suggit refers to as a ‘bullying vendetta’.

    Whether the alleged actions of individual councillors named in Ann Suggit’s letter were motivated by personal animosity or as an organised campaign is open to interpretation and opinion: Personal disputes between individuals? Or factional conflict waged by a group?

    Whilst the the resignations of Ann Suggit and Jim Lindop were indeed very public, and residents want to know what prompted this public bust-up, in the interests of public progress on these matters then we have to draw some lines – and therefore the Hedon Blog has opted not to name individuals where allegations have been made.

    Ray Duffill

    United in silence.

    The Town Clerk, Hedon Town Council says I was not prevented from speaking at the recent public meeting; I totally refute this, as it is simply not true. Many other residents were prevented from asking any question that criticised the council or a councillor; in fact the Mayor at one point said “can we have a sensible question”. I agree with a previous letter from K Redmore the order of the night was evasive, dismissive and condescending.

    The first two questions appeared to be a set up as the Town Clerk and a councillor talked for about ten minutes on the subject with even a history lesson on Horsewell Pond.

    It was obvious the council were surprised at the large attendence of residents; many said afterwards they wanted answers as to why one councillor childishly turned her back on the Mayor on the church steps on Remembrance Sunday, and about the long running vendetta against the former Mayor and Mayoress, by a group of councillors.

    Jim Lindop attempted to ask what had been done about the councillor who punched the air in triumph when I resigned, (YouTube ‘Hedon Mayor Resigns’), when he tried to ask this, the councillor shouted at him. The question was not answered.

    Why did (a councillor was named – Editor) think they had the authority to decide who should or should not be invited by the Mayor to his Mayor making celebration and why did the Town Clerk do nothing to stop the bullying vendetta against the ex-Mayor and Mayoress.

    Both myself and Cllr Dennis witnessed (a councillor was named – Editor) shouting at the Mayoress at the Civic Sunday in the Council Chamber. I have stated this on numerous occasions, why is he reluctant to state the truth? Or does he condone this behaviour by councillors.

    Unfortunately democracy was not evident at this so called public meeting.

    We need residents of Hedon to put themselves forward as councillors at the next full election in May 2015, this council needs to be replaced with new people who will serve and not act as if they control the town.

    Cllr Ann suggit

  6. Ann Suggit, who resigned from Hedon Town Council last November, but who is still an East Riding Councillor representing the Town on ERYC (East Riding of Yorkshire Council), has submitted this letter on the issue of the Public Participation Meeting:

    Cllr Ann Suggit – letters to the editor – Hedon Town Council Public Participation Meeting.

    Ann Suggit head 2I attended the public meeting last week at the Town Hall with the intention of speaking on two items, 40 to 50 residents had the same intention, a packed house. Many had concerns regarding recent problems. I was immediately informed by the mayor that I could not speak as I no longer had any connection with this council.

    I was under the impression that as a resident I was eligible to do so. I was disgusted and ashamed, as these councillors were more concerned with their own status, what a disgrace.

    Hedon the oldest council, in the past had some standing and respect; it was non-political and had a good reputation.
    You the council are now a laughing stock and hopefully next year in May others will come forward to stand for election and vote this council out of office, then decency can be restored.

    The two new councillors will need to be strong and resist some councillors who will no doubt try to get them to join the controlling group that currently exists within the council and hopefully give some reassurance to the residents.

    Many thanks to the residents of Hedon for all your support over the years; and to all those who attended the public meeting. I shall continue to represent you all on the East Riding Yorkshire Council and work for your benefit.

    I would also like to thank all the many parish councillors and colleagues on the ERYC for their support.

    Ann Suggit Ex-Hedon Town Councillor and member of the ERYC

    • The Mayor couldnt wait for 7.30 so he could close the public particiaption bit of the meeting. Lots of questions were left unanswered. .. I agree with Cllr Suggit, that the 2 new councillors elected next week will need to be strong. and stand up to the controlling group until the full elections. I have every intention to do just that. That is why our leaflet calls for Representation and Responsibility. You may not normally vote Labour, but in this election we can be the voice of Hedon residents to this council. So please use both your votes and vote for Gallant and Stockdale.

  7. Personal issues that could of been avoided and saved the council spending £5000 on a by-election. Maybe this money should come out of the councillors pockets who started the petty squabbling in the first place.

    • Sarah – As a former Councillor, I wonder if you agree with me, that perhaps one of the things that would have prevented any “petty squabbling in the first place” at Hedon Town Council is a set of robust and enforceable policies and procedures to govern the management of any disputes amongst councillors.

      Any sitting councillor with concerns about another’s actions, comments or behaviour (inside or outside the council chamber) should have had a very ‘clear route to travel’ under the council rules to try and get it sorted. In the case from May to November 2013, the existing procedures clearly never worked and the “personal issues” you mention were not avoided . The lack of really effective policies and procedures is no-one’s fault, because these things can only be tested by events.

      The issues of who-did-what first is not the issue with me – it’s the lack of action to nip things in the bud before they got worse.

      It’s perhaps not a vote winner in the current election, but more effective policies and procedures if in place previously, would perhaps have prevented the issues amongst councillors from escalating in the way that they did. We could have avoided all the bitterness and prevented colleagues (if not friends) from falling out. And saved us the £5,000.

      I think spending the money on Polling Cards is a good idea – voters in Hedon need to know that an election is taking place and have an opportunity to express any dissatisfaction with what has gone on previously.

      The politics will certainly be different on the council whoever wins on Feb 6th. But political disagreement is normal. How the 12 councillors work together as a team in the interests of the Town will be the thing I’ll be watching for.

    • We were very disappointed that the mayor stopped us asking about the vendetta that was led against the x mayor. The public wanted to know what had gone and what had led to Jim Lindop,s and one of our longest serving councillors resignations, who are both well respected within Hedon, and for all the work they did, unlike others on our council. The current Mayor would not allow the x mayor or Ann Suggit to explain or ask any questions about the disgraceful behaviour of some councillors.
      The public of Hedon had a right to know, what ever happen to the freedom of speech.

      • I think Freedom of Speech is fine Robert – but words like “vendetta” and “disgraceful” are just opinions. And sometimes offering those opinions can seem like – and this is a word used by the ‘other side’ in this dispute – as “victimisation” of or even demonising the other councillors.

        I think the role of local town councillor is – and should be – an honourable one. Councillors on parish and town councils put in lots of voluntary work and emotional commitment. Quite rightly we should hold our politicians to account – and there’s a general contempt at MP’s and the like who earn a lot of money and are still caught fiddling their expenses – but at a local level we are talking about volunteers on the town council who have fallen out with each other.

        My experience of reporting the town council over the last 12 months is that they do a good job and its wrong to have an ‘open season’ on councillors. In my opinion Jim Lindop and Ann Suggit were fine councillors and the town is worse off without them representing us. But its also my experience that the other 10 councillors were “fine” as well.

        The fact is we don’t really know what went on behind the scenes that led to the escalation of bitterness amongst the councillors, we just take sides with the people we know and trust.

        My point is, it should never have got to the stage where councillors felt they had no choice but to resign.

        Come on candidates – I know it’s not sexy – but tell us that you’re going to vote for and bring in better disciplinary, grievance and disputes policies on Hedon Town Council!

        • I think what you say makes good sense Ray. The failing seems to be that incidents outside the chamber.are not deemed to be Council business and therefore not covered by existing dispute policies. That led to simmering resentment on all sides.
          But Its been about personality clashes, not policies. I’m much more interested in putting the councils policies under scrutiny… why taking East Riding’s measly grant of £2/head takes priority over addressing the needs of Hedon’s people. And getting some of those decisions changed.

  8. I really can’t stop laughing at that ‘lynch mob’ jibe. What next Hedonsomer Murders? It was more like a scene from the Vicar of Dibley. I was asked by the local lads to enquire when the skatepark is officially opening (I know it’s finished, I was talking to the builders). Never got the chance!.

  9. Regards Horsewell Pond, I mention this last night, the report I left Nov 14th said I have arrangements in place for BP Rugby club to dig reeds and weeds out of the pond, however the council are aware this must be completed when the newts and frogs are not there between Nov and early March. Since Nov nothing has been done.
    However the daffodils are appearing.

  10. Ray has decided not to publish my blog comment, possibly because he doesn’t like names mentioning, I identified two Hedon councillors who do park vehicles where they take up valuable parking places on Market Hill and the Church lane car park. It is a shame I was stopped from asking the question at last nights non-public participation meeting and the councillors themselves would have had to answer, in front of the people.

  11. Public participation it was not, who is it that put these councillors in office, the residents of Hedon attended showing how many residents are concerned as to what has been going on. They were there to get answers were prevented from doing so in an arrogant and condescending manner. I wanted to question the deplorable behaviour of some councillors. The mention of a lynch mob is a disgraceful comment and I totally agree with Neil, I take great offence at how this council behave and have in regard to me and my wife since our Mayor-making last May. Once again two councillors lost their tempers and raised their voice against me.
    Cllr Dennis try’s to convince us that the council is not in crisis, yet there has been five complaints sent into the monitoring officer at ERYC, about four councillors and two legal proceedings pending. Cllr Dennis says personnel grievances were not the issue of the council, I do not agree, the insulting behaviour by one councillor on two occasions, was an insult to the office of Mayor of Hedon, and yet they would not answer any questions in regard to the insult against one of our longest serving and much respected councillor Ann Suggit, shown on the blog and Utube, how much lower will some members stoop, with the Town Clerk passing the book to the standards board at ERYC. It is time someone stopped this poor behaviour on this council.
    The meeting was abruptly ended by Cllr Dennis, raising his voice saying leave as quickly as possible, this only antagonised the residents more, with some comments made, many residents left they passed the missing councillor entering the chamber, and as residents got to the bottom of Town Hall stairs the council chamber door was slammed shut behind them. This is how some councillors behave towards the people of Hedon.
    Who serves who.

  12. I’ve had one comment submitted which says individual councillors are adding to parking problems because of where they or their business vehicles choose to park. They were going to ask individual councillors about their parking habits at last night’s meeting.

    I’ve opted not to publish it.

    There would need to be some significant change in behaviour by hundreds of people to really have an influence on parking problems in the town.

    Whilst some might argue that key individuals – like councillors – should attempt to take the lead and inspire this change in parking behaviour, are we seriously asking them to do this?

  13. I attended the meeting last night and I fully endorse what Neil Shillito is saying. A lynch mob? don’t make me laugh! the other way round more like. It was fairly obvious to me that any questions that they felt uncomfortable with were quickly ‘quashed’ and they moved on. If it is not a council in crisis what are they afraid of? why would they not answer pertinent questions? I believe the public can ask questions once every three months for half an hour although I was informed this is actually every SIX months. Thirty minutes is nonsense, simply not enough time. I noticed the councillors looking at the clock and on the stroke of seven thirty that was it, no more questions even though people had their hands up.

  14. I know you had to leave before the end Ray, so just to add : I also asked why nothing was being progressed to address the traffic and parking problems Proposals for a shuttle bus and extra parking had both been shelved ? Councillor Dennis said the ratepayers wouldnt like it…Well I think we should ask them ! Then the meeting was closed even though there were still people wanting to ask more questions.

  15. The people of Hedon were out in force to show there loss of confidence in the council since the resignations. the Mayor claims these are personal issues, the video on you tube is a council meeting hardly personal, the people were ignored last night as we have been ignored on here, I have been informed today by a Councillor that we were a lynch mob last night, and that one Councillor was told to stay away from the meeting for there own safety I take offence at this , everyone followed the rules laid out despite there frustrations at not getting any answers again and demand to know what was meant by stay away for her own safety. I will be contacting the so called standards committee myself regards this complete breach of democracy. i say again the people have lost confidence and you should stand down and stand for re election.

    • Told to stay away for their own safety? My god what on earth did they think would happen?! Their electorate just wanted the answers they deserve and got fobbed off with legal jargon. I will also contact the standards committee Neil. Power to the people!

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