The Nolan Principles

Selflessness – Integrity – Objectivity – Accountability – Openness – Honesty – Leadership

“Parish councils, we all know, are hotbeds of intrigue, corruption and passion. Those who sit on them, a colourful mixture of oddballs, bullies and idiots.”

It would be unfair to characterise all those who give up their free time to serve on a Parish or Town council as ‘corrupt, bullies or idiots’. Over the years councillors have made a significant contribution to their parish, as a result of a great deal of hard work and dedication and they deserve the thanks and admiration of their parish. Given that there over 10,000 councils and around 80,000 councillors, there will always be some who work to a different agenda than that of their colleagues. It is these councillors who have allowed the name ‘parish council’ and in particular ‘parish councillor’ to be held in such low esteem by the public. But what is important is that many councils and councillors fail to uphold the very principles they agreed to uphold – The Nolan Principles.

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Local Gov | Posted 17th October 2019

A town council has been forced to withdraw most the money from its reserves to cover an overspend of £100,000, auditors have revealed.

A report from the Auditor General found Penmaenmawr Town Council spent more on the local community than it received in income for three years due to its ‘poor financial management’.

As a result, it was forced to make up the money from its reserves, leaving its deposit bank account almost empty.

The report said the council had insufficient scrutiny of the accounts, ineffective budget setting, and lack of proper understanding of the make-up of its reserves.

Auditor General, Adrian Crompton said: “Penmaenmawr Town Council’s overspending is rightly a matter of public concern, and I am encouraged that the council has since put in changes to address the weaknesses identified in my reports. It is important that all four councils learn from the findings in my reports and address the deficiencies I have identified.

“Council members have a responsibility to local residents to ensure the proper stewardship of public funds and that councils live within their financial means.”


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Northampton Chronicle & Echo | Posted 22nd February 2020

Fury over Kingsthorpe parish proposals being ‘railroaded’ onto residents

Opposition councillors are ‘beyond angry’ at plans to ‘railroad’ two wards into a new community council for Kingsthorpe.

The new Kingsthorpe Community Council is set to encompass the five wards of Sunnyside, Spring Park, Obelisk, Kingsthorpe ward and St David’s.

But the last full council meeting on January 20 saw members of the public from Kingsthorpe and St David’s say they had not been included in the consultation.

And councillors from Labour and the Liberal Democrats have joined forces to condemn plans to include the two wards in the new community council, and labelled the consultation process a ‘shambles’.

Labour leader Councillor Danielle Stone said: “I very rarely lose my temper but I’m beyond angry at what is going on. The Conservatives are contemptuous of residents and contemptuous of opposition councillors. We want this community council to be successful, but it’s too big and it’s going to fail.”

Councillor Jane Birch, who is both a borough and county councillor for the area, added: “Kingsthorpe village doesn’t want to be involved, and St David’s has huge challenges and I think it’s going to get overlooked and I’m desperately worried it won’t have a voice.

“A lot of people didn’t get the consultation and for those who did they’re not going to take notice of a seven page document with fuzzy maps.”

And Liberal Democrat councillor Sally Beardsworth said the proposals would be ‘awful’ for the people she represented, adding: “We are being railroaded into something that they never wanted and have not been consulted on. People who turned up to full council last time around are angry that they are not being listened to.

“It’s really wrong of the Tory administration to do things to people rather than work with those people. Half of them didn’t get the consultation letters so they couldn’t participate.”

As things currently stand the new Kingsthorpe Community Council would include the five wards and have 15 councillors for the 17,000 population. The new Northampton Town Council would have 21 wards and 25 councillors.

The trio have no objections to Sunnyside, Obelisk and Spring Park being included in the community council, but believe that Kingsthorpe ward and St David’s should form part of the new Town Council in the first instance before being given the chance to join the Kingsthorpe council at a later date if it wants. They say that proposal was rejected during a meeting with Conservative councillors.

A vote at Monday’s full borough council meeting is set to approve the new Northampton Town Council and the new councils in Kingsthorpe and Delapre & Far Cotton.

But Labour has tabled an amendment calling for separate votes on each of the three new councils rather than in one block, and for Kingsthorpe ward and St David’s to be moved into Northampton Town Council.

But speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Conservative deputy leader Phil Larratt – who has been leading the programme on the new local councils – said if the borough was to consult on the issue again then the delivery of the Town Council would also be delayed.

He said he would discuss the amendment with his group, but said: “We are representing their views because they were included in the consultation and the consultation was quite clear that there was support for a parish.

“We can’t understand why they would think that a parish council of 17,000 is too big but a town council of 99,000 isn’t.

“We got to where we are with cross party agreement and have spent a lot of money on this process. If we change this we would have to go out and re-consult not only on Kingsthorpe but also for the town council as it didn’t include those wards. We don’t have the money to go out and re-consult, and it would put the whole thing on the backburner until at least the unitary had started.”

The original five ward Kingsthorpe Community Council had been proposed by the Whitehills & Spring Park Residents’ Association, but speaking at the last full council meeting representatives of WASPRA appeared to acknowledge that the three-ward proposal was better.

And Councillor Birch said to vote the councils through without ‘proper consultation’ was ‘wrong’. She added: “This is just something the Conservatives have cooked up between themselves, there’s no democracy, no logic and they are ignoring evidence.”


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The Packet | Posted 13th June 2019

A Falmouth councillor who has apparently moved to Launceston was criticised for his “very poor” attendance record at town council meetings

Councillor for Penwerris ward Mathew McCarthy has attended 12 of his 22 meetings for the 2018/19 municipal year.

His address on the town council website has also now been changed to Wooda Lane in Launceston.

Councillor David Saunby said at a Falmouth Town Council meeting last night (Monday June 10): “I’m very concerned about councillor McCarthy’s attendance. We hardly see him.

“It’s my personal feeling that he’s not interested in this council. I’m a bit frustrated about this, he only seems to turn up at certain times.”

Town clerk Mark Williams informed the council that the minimum attendance requirement for town councillors is once every six months, which councillor McCarthy has not breached.

Councillor Saunby said: “I think once every six months is not good enough. I think it’s very very poor and there’s no excuse for it.”

Speaking to the Packet after the meeting, which he did not attend, councillor McCarthy, who also represents Penwerris on Cornwall Council, said: “My response is pretty simple – my Cornwall Council attendance record is 100 per cent.”

Town mayor Steve Eva echoed some councillors’ concerns at the meeting.

He said: “I don’t know where he’s living. As far as I’m concerned we are 16 around a table. If one of those people aren’t round the table they should vacate. He might have a genuine reason for not being here, I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon.”

He went on to say: “I think if he doesn’t want to be here he should be man enough to say ‘look, I have got other things on’.”

For three of his ten absences in 2018/19, councillor McCarthy gave apologies – one saying he could not attend for work reasons, one because he was ill and another because of a family commitment.

He gave no apology for the other seven.

It is not the first time that the Penwerris councillor has come under fire for his attendance record at town meetings.

In July 2017, the Packet reported that councillor McCarthy was criticised for attending only one meeting in three months.

He defended himself at the time, saying: “I’m working with people and getting things done.”