The following communication was sent to the Alverdiscott & Huntshaw parish council by a parishioner who agreed for it to be published here.
To the current Chair of the Alverdiscott & Huntshaw Parish Council,
The article in the Local Rag written by the Acting Chairman of the Parish Council, Mr. Bruce Millar, asked for a response from parishioners, here is mine!
I do not support the current parish council because in my view it is failing to perform properly in almost all departments. As I understand it the collective failings of the council have cost the council about a third of its annual precept in fines and this has been allowed to happen by a combination of neglect and collective incompetence over a significant period of time. Failure to observe good governance practices over several years and to ask the right questions is inexcusable when you are responsible for public money.
In my experience the current parish council does little or nothing to find out and listen to the opinions of parishioners that they are supposed to represent. I believe that this may be the first time that any member of the parish council has made any effort to ask the parishioners what they think and I have lived in the parish for eighteen years. Local district and county councillors make huge efforts to stay in touch with their electorate to gauge opinion, so why does the parish council think they are above such actions? One reason would seem to be that at least three of the current cadre do not even live in the parish so have little interest or time to talk to the locals!
The parish council has been run for years as nothing more than a gentlemen’s club, with like minded friends and associates regularly co-opted to fill vacancies, so nothing ever changes and the views of the council become increasingly myopic and it is probably these practices that have brought the council to its current low point. The responsibility for this state of affairs is as much down to the parishioners as the councillors since the parish only gets the council it deserves and by their lack of attention and failure to get involved they have allowed this situation to fester resulting in the current situation. The councillors, if they had been fulfilling their role properly, should have recognised these issues long ago and put much more effort into reaching out to the parishioners. The council could have done this by ensuring that it had a proper democratic mandate by holding elections and regular public meetings, granted that this would have cost money, but it would have been a much more beneficial way of spending money than simply paying fines for incompetence! I would recommend that the council resign en bloc and hold a proper election at the earliest opportunity to give the council a proper democratic mandate to take it into the future and if that costs money then so be it.