Chinese whispers!   Melbourn in Cambridgeshire

As many in the village know, the troubles with the previous parish council began as a result of bullying, intimidation and threats, so the latest rumours around the village are rather disturbing. There are ‘alleged’ threats to block any possible co-optee that one or more members of the new council believe to be an ‘undesirable’ and that they will take every step they can to prevent these people from becoming a councillor.

Now, generally I don’t take much store in rumours, but let’s face it, much of the grievance debacle was built on rumour, and look what that gave us. However, if this is true then it shows a darker side to some on this new council.

There has been a lot of criticism about the leaflet that went around the village highlighting only a ‘select few’ standing for election. Not helped by at least one candidate telling those on the doorstep, “we only want residents to vote for those on the leaflet”. If this was a party election then you could agree with the tactic, but this is a non-partisan group of local people offering their services to help the village.

Yes, they have to work and trust each other, but trust must come from all sides and if residents see that the council has once again been manipulated and a small number have determined who joins and who doesn’t, then there will be little trust in this new parish council – and that is before they begin work!

A new start? ‘Openness and transparency’ was the phrase of many who put their names forward for election, but if this alleged tactic is true, then it shows little openness and transparency. Could we be heading for just another clique amongst councillors?

There are now some good honest people on the council, let’s not see it spoilt by just one or two as we did last time.

But this threat should it exist is just a repeat of what has happened before, bullying and intimidation.


1 comment

  • I think one of the keys to ‘openness and transparency’ – which we all want – is filming or recording meetings.

    We’ve had very similar problems to those described above at our Parish Council.

    As the author of this blog points out, individual councillors are not all bad, at all. In my opinion, its something to do with the culture of an organisation, – as a whole and group dynamics. After all, bullying & intimidation can plague all sorts of organisations. I think what makes it different and particularly painful in the case of Parish Councils, is the breakdown of democracy. I also think that if people sit by and do nothing when such dysfunctional behaviour is going on, they are in a sense, complicit.

    The public are a part of this thing too. Its a particularly vicious cycle if or when the public don’t get involved, as has been / is the case here.

    Going back to filming, it shouldn’t be a taboo. It can help engage the public as a tool of communication. It stops bad behaviour. It makes the thing ‘public’. And that is what democracy should be.

    (‘Milborne Port Parish Council’ at Youtube)

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