Questions to the Council?   Melbourn in Cambridgeshire

Many in the village will be aware that a document has been produced on behalf of Melbourn Parish Council, but unaware of the contents the subject matter and it’s serious consequences.

Below are question that will be put to the full Parish council on Monday as a matter of correspondence. I hope the council answers these in a clear and unambiguous way, so the residents have a better understanding of what this document is about.

Melbourn Parish Council meeting
Monday 27th June 2016

As an outline to these questions, it is known within the village that an important document had been produced and that this document relates to a number of very serious complaints concerning the conduct of Melbourn Parish Council and that of a councillor. It is also known that the council has ensured that the document does not become public by using ‘in-camera’.

So let me point out the obvious guiding principles of a Parish Council: The parish council must ensure all its activities are open, transparent and accountable to all residents.

The council made this public when they put in place an external group to ensure the complaints were given a fair and proper hearing. As such, I and the residents of Melbourn are entitled to know what this document is about. If the council or councillor believe the findings of this external group (which they put in place) are ‘inaccurate’, they have the right to say so – but publicly – as it should be. What they do not have, is the right to treat residents with contempt and dismiss complaints as if they are irrelevant.

A copy of this document should be made available to all residents of Melbourn.

A number of councillors were in favour of publication of this document, which is shown by their resignation letters as a matter of principle. (Available on the Parish Council website.)

In the first instance and in light of these resignations, there is one important question:

Do those Councillors who voted against the publication of the said document, fully and unreservedly support the councillor and that they are willing to publicly state – the councillor has done nothing wrong and that ALL complaints are untrue?

The following questions do not relate to actual details shown in the stated document and as such residents are entitled to answers to all questions.


Questions to Melbourn Parish Council

  1. That a document exists as stated and contains serious accusations of unacceptable behaviour by a member of Melbourn Parish Council?
  2. That Melbourn Parish Council agreed to have these accusations investigated with the help and support of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Association of Local Councils (CAPALC)?
  3. That a grievance panel was put in place by Melbourn Parish Council to investigate the accusations?
  4. That this grievance panel was independent of Melbourn Parish Council, its members were from outside of Melbourn and all were fully endorsed by the full council?
  5. That the grievance panel unanimously upheld the majority of the serious complaints made against a member of Melbourn Parish Council?
  6. That a so-called ‘rebuttal document’ was put forward after the grievance panel document had been presented to the Parish Council?
  7. Was this rebuttal sanctioned by the full Parish Council before the grievance panel document was officially discussed?
  8. Was the rebuttal instigated by the person for whom the complaints were made against, or was it produced by another member on the council?
  9. Were all councillors, the grievance panel and the person who brought the complaint given sufficient opportunity to see this rebuttal document before the complaint document was put to council and a decision made?
  10. Were there any discussions between councillors outside of any official council meetings that helped predetermine their decision on the outcome of this document?
  11. What are these serious accusations and why was the document dismissed and hidden?

At the very least this document was likely to have been an embarrassment to most members of the council, with the exception of the person against whom the serious complaints were made. But now it represents much more and clearly brings into question the integrity of Melbourn Parish Council.

These complaints were obviously serious enough for the Parish Council to set up an external enquiry to investigate. Yet when faced with a verdict that was obviously totally unexpected and one they did not want, they ignored it – in the hope the rest of Melbourn would do the same.

Given the nature of the complaints and the conduct of the Parish Council the use of ‘in-camera’ was wholly inappropriate. The council’s handbook clearly states, ‘may exclude the public for a particular item of business, if it thinks such an exclusion is in the public interest’. By trying to hide behind this clause, it shows they were more concerned with their own interests than that of the public’s. The publication of this document is clearly IN the public’s interest.


For more information visit Melbourn Parish Council Website (Click here)

 

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