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The Grimsby Telegraph | Posted 3rd October 2014

Parish Council in turmoil? Resignations, walk-outs and accusations of digs and lying

A NEW Waltham parish councillor has resigned, accusing other members of having an “unprofessional approach”.

At the start of the monthly parish council meeting at New Waltham Village Hall, Lisa Gibson claimed: “The council continually makes decisions based on guess work and has little regard for the budget they have been entrusted to manage.

“I am not prepared to be compromised by my colleagues’ unprofessional approach, nor am I prepared to be undermined and disrespected by them any longer.

“I have a lot of knowledge and experience to offer this sector and have been keen to put this to use in New Waltham, only to meet criticism and opposition.

“I wish you luck in your pursuit of a whiter-than-white New Waltham Parish Council, however, I am sorry to say I believe this to be a long way off.”

No sooner had Councillor Gibson begun her statement of resignation than ex-chairman, Councillor Roger Breed, walked out of the meeting, announcing: “I am not listening to this.”

He returned after Mrs Gibson had left the meeting.

The drama at the parish council meeting continued when the former clerk, Kathy Peers, used the public open forum to claim a community Facebook page had been a means to “have a dig” at her.

She demanded an apology from New Waltham Parish Council and from Mrs Gibson, who had already left.

Seated close to Mrs Peers in the public gallery were the former chairman of Great Coates Village Council, Nicola Maasdam, and the present chairman of Humberston Parish Council, Councillor Harry Hall.

Mrs Peers was formerly the clerk to Great Coates and is currently the clerk to both Humberston and Stallingborough Parish Councils. She is suspended as clerk to Healing Parish Council.

Mrs Peers said the New Waltham Community Facebook page should have had a disclaimer showing it does not reflect the views of New Waltham Parish Council.

She reminded councillors they had agreed two months previously that the Facebook page should have a disclaimer.

She said: “I do not have a problem with most of the stories. About 98 per cent are about the community. There are several about me and my work with other parish councils.”

She said there was no other story about Great Coates other than a link to the Grimsby Telegraph website and a report of a damming audit report into the finances at Great Coates Village Council.

There is also a report of her suspension from Healing, but no other stories about the village, councillors were told.

Mrs Peers said: “It is my belief that Councillor Gibson was putting stuff on there to have a dig at me. I would like to know why there was no disclaimer.”

Parish council chairman Councillor Grahame Williams said the community Facebook page was nothing to do with the parish council.

He said an alternative page representing New Waltham Parish Council would soon be published.

Mrs Peers added: “Councillor Gibson has been approaching councillors from other parish councils and making accusations and inferences about me.”

She said there had been accusations that her salary payments were inaccurate, but that a thorough investigation had proved all salary payments to her were in accordance with her contract.

She said: “Since the accusations have been disproven there should be a formal apology from the council. I was going to ask for an apology from Councillor Gibson but she has resigned.”

Mrs Peers said Councillor Gibson had stated the parish council would be hearing from Humberside Police in relation to an investigation into matters involving another parish council.

Mrs Peers claimed New Waltham councillors “had been lied to in open public session” and details had been “misrepresented”.

She asked the chairman if Mrs Gibson would be reported for a breach of the code of conduct for councillors.

She claimed there had been a scheme to discredit her and members of New Waltham Parish Council, and she had been advised to seek legal advice on the grounds of defamation of character, which she has done.

Councillor Williams said a formal response would be sent to Mrs Peers.

During the public open forum, Pauline Breed, the wife of Councillor Roger Breed, asked for clarification over any involvement by Humberside Police into the audit of the parish council.

The chairman replied that the present clerk Lori Dyas had been asked to “revisit” council finances.

Councillor Williams said: “The clerk found no irregularities.”

He said salary payments to the former clerk were “as per the grades of the clerk”.

He added: “I asked the clerk to find out if there was any police investigation. Humberside Police confirmed there is no investigation into New Waltham Parish Council.”