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The Leicester Mercury | Posted 13th June 2013

Parish councillors forced to resign

A district council has taken control of a chaotic parish council after six members were urged to resign in front of scores of villagers.

Deputy leader of Blaby District Council Tony Greenwood stood before a parish meeting in Kirby Muxloe and offered the panel of six councillors an ultimatum.
He gave them two choices: to allow the continuation of a petition calling for the district’s intervention or to resign on the spot.

Coun Greenwood warned the panel the petition would succeed – and produced six resignation forms from his bag.

The move followed years of failures at the parish council, which were recently brought to light in an Audit Commission report which criticised numerous aspects of its governance.

All six councillors signed that night, leaving only four, who had not attended the meeting.

It means the parish council does not have enough members to make official decisions, leaving the district to assume automatic control.

The next step will see Blaby District Council install a parish authority to run the parish until a by-election is held.

Blaby council leader Councillor Ernie White said: “This situation has brought parish councils into a really bad light.

“It’s almost unheard of for a parish council to act the way it has over the past few years.

“But I’d like to thank Tony (Greenwood) for the work he’s done and now we can look to the future and put Kirby Muxloe’s problems behind us.”

Initially, Blaby District Council will appoint six “non-politically-aligned people” to run the parish, while plans are put in place for a by-election, said Coun White.

“We now need people of good standing and good intent to come forward and take this council forward, and leave the bad times in the past,” he said.

In May, the Audit Commission compiled a damning report which listed a catalogue of failures at Kirby Muxloe Parish Council. Among the findings were evidence of poor record-keeping, missing information about council assets and a failure to show it had paid VAT.

The report’s author, Stephen Warren, also found the council had ignored requests under the Freedom of Information Act and failed to recognise it had any problems.
One of the councillors to resign last week was villager Andrew Bingham.

He said: “We welcome the intervention of Blaby in this matter and we hope the new council appointed by Blaby council sorts out the problems which have been rattling around for a number of years.

“The report from the Audit Commission finally nailed it. Blaby couldn’t ignore it and realised that something had to be done. I was happy to sign the resignation if it means that we will have a properly functioning parish council.”

On June 18, a meeting will be held at Blaby District Council to install six temporary councillors who will oversee matters until a by-election is organised later in the year.