Councillor Goldstone – Resignation

Here’s a copy of the resignation letter recently submitted by councillor Goldstone.

When co-opted onto the Alverdiscott and Huntshaw Parish Council in October 2019 I stated that I simply wanted to improve council communications. I was frustrated by the fact that the council had been failing to meet its statutory transparency and openness obligations.

Councillor Staines stated that the reason the council had not previously published documentation from a website was that the council didn’t have a website. In fact the council’s domain name had been established in 2010 and an active website was in place between 2012 and 2015. Unfortunately, the council allowed this valuable  resource to fall into disuse.

Some councillors have apparently suggested that the problems which plague this council have been caused by myself and ex-councillor Bolton. This is verifiably untrue. The council has failed to fulfill it’s financial accounting and governance obligations for many years prior to my co-option. This has resulted in the recent requirement for an external audit, at significant expense.

The entrenched attitudes of certain councillors were clearly demonstrated at the council meeting held via Zoom on the 28th of September 2020. At the meeting councillor Easterbrook was questioned regarding the revelation that he and councillor Ley, trusted signatories for the parish council, were responsible for signing blank cheques to enable parish council expenses to be paid. The responsible financial officer placed the council’s chequebook, which included a double-signed blank cheque, in a bag of documentation which was then left outside to be collected by the internal auditor. The council’s ongoing inclination toward maintaining ‘country ways’ like this does not fill me with confidence.

At the same meeting, councillors were required to vote on how the council should respond to statements in the Annual Governance and Accountability Return. Councillors voted (4 to 2) to state that the council had complied with the various accounting statements – although it was clear that it hadn’t.

The latest revelation to come to light is that this council has been completely uninsured for a significant period of time. This has put the council at significant risk and further demonstrates how it has suffered from maladministration and incompetence.

Also, the manner in which this council has historically responded to requests for comment on some planning applications is very questionable.

As a result of certain recent controversial co-options the council now has 3 employees of Staines trailers in its ranks. Councillors were very quick to vote in favour of co-opting Staines Trailers employees over a parishioner who had been a long-term critic of controversial, non-permitted developments and operations at the Staines Trailers site.

I have fulfilled my stated intent to provide much of this council’s historic financial and governance documentation from the website – which I rebuilt.

The council is now facing a great deal of scrutiny – from external auditors, the tax-paying public, social media and beyond. I am completely unmotivated toward helping this council resolve what are primarily historic issues and I have no confidence that councillors are truly representative of parishioners. Nor do I feel they have any intention of changing their ways. As a result, I must resign with immediate effect.

As a member of the public I will do everything I can to ensure this council is held fully accountable for its historic failings and ongoing responsibilities.

Tony Goldstone