Parish Councils – Residents Anger at Being Duped
Last Thursday I attended the St James Residents Associations AGM at which along with Cllr Tony Clarke (Independent, St James) and the lead Borough Council officer tasked with implementing the Conservatives Parish Council policy I spoke about the proposals for a Parish Council in St James.
It is fair to say that I and Cllr Clarke spoke against the proposals and why residents should vote NO in the poll to be held in November and criticised the lack of consultation which followed the Leader of the Councils statement that “he would not be wasting money on consultation”.
It was perhaps the most definitive statement that demonstrates why time after time the Northampton Conservatives have pushed forward with their pet projects without any regard for what the residents think.
This was highlighted again when talking to residents after the meeting they expressed real anger that not a single Conservative Councillor turned up to answer questions on what the proposals mean and more importantly why they had decided to spend over £150,000 on proposals that they were not even prepared to consult on.
Of course Councillors have other matters they have to deal with, but for the Conservative Councillor for the area not to attend, and then for Councillor Brandon Eldred (Conservative) the Cabinet Member responsible for Parish Councils not to attend is bad enough, but haven’t they boasted about how each Cabinet Member now has a Deputy/Assistant Councillor?
So where were they and if they weren’t available to face the public and explain a policy that is the largest single change to the democratic system in St James wouldn’t you have thought that the Leader of the Council would have found someone to attend, after all there are 12 Cabinet members and assistants?
Surely one of them was available?
or is it the case that he and his colleagues know that the whole policy of trying to dupe residents into voting for a new Parish Council is doomed to failure and they are now starting to formulate the spin they are going to use to explain why they have wasted over £150,000 of the taxpayer’s money?
Of course there may well be another reason why the Conservatives and Cllr Eldred in particular didn’t attend, and that is because they have already made the decision which is why they felt that “consultation would be a waste of money”.
It is the real sense of injustice, “that it is a done deal” which has angered the residents of St James and over the weekend was also the sentiments expressed to me and Labour campaigners by residents in Rectory Farm and Parklands.
As one St James resident put it
“I was asked to sign the petition calling for a Residents Association and was told that it would mean that we would be able to decide what our Council Tax would be spent on in St James. They gave me a real impression that our Council Tax would be given to a Parish Council, not that we would have to pay more council tax, I feel that I’ve been duped into signing”
It was a feeling that was shared unanimously by the whole of the residents at the meeting.
What added to the feeling of resentment and anger was that Cllr Mike Hallam (Conservative Parklands) very clearly stated at the same Council meeting where the Leader of the Council made his “no consultation” statement, that Labour was wrong in saying that residents wouldn’t receive consultation information and that “all residents will receive a letter with the information before the vote”.
I suppose it could be considered unfortunate for him that there were members of the St James Residents Association at the Council meeting so when they were told at last week’s meeting that the letter would provide nothing more than where the polling stations were going to be.
Is there any wonder that they felt they had been “intentionally misled”.
To be honest they used a different three-letter word that starts with ‘l’ and ends with ‘e’.
Northampton Labour have continued to be open and honest about the impact of residents voting to create new Parish Councils and have stated very clearly that it is another layer of unnecessary bureaucracy that will cost residents an average of £58 a year in increased Council Tax.
It is why we are urging residents in Obelisk, Sunnyside, Westone, Parklands, Rectory Farm and St James to Vote NO on November 15th to having a Parish Council.
What Labour also argue that whatever the outcome of the poll it should be binding on the Borough Council and that it is wrong for the Northampton Conservatives to think that they and only they with their majority at the Guildhall have the right to decide where Parish Councils are implemented.
Northampton Labour, unlike the Conservatives are Listening to Northampton and will continue to oppose what is no more than an attempt to increase Council Tax through the back door.
The question now is whether the Residents of Northampton will fall far it and be duped?
Watch this space.