Ambitious plans to draw up a blueprint to drive Horncastle forward hit a major setback last week when just TWO members of the public turned up at a key meeting.
Town councillors had been hoping for a big turnout of residents, clubs and other organisations to discuss what is effectively a blueprint for Horncastle’s future - from plans to revitalise the town centre to boosting tourism.
Instead, rows of empty seats and unwanted agendas at Stanhope Hall last Tuesday told another story.
The council’s annual meeting attracted just six councillors - and two members of the public.
Five town councillors stayed away and not one of the town’s three district councillors attended.
Town councillors are keen to develop a ‘forward plan’ which is essentially designed to improve the quality of life for residents and enhance the town as a vibrant place to live, work, visit and invest in.
The plan will cover a whole range of initiatives from clean-ups to boosting tourism and attracting new businesses.
The council wants to involve the public and were shocked by the turn-out at last Tuesday’s annual meeting in Stanhope Hall.
There was no representation from the town’s three East Lindsey District councillors – or from any of the myriad of clubs and organisations in the town.
Town council chairman Brian Burbidge said he was ‘disappointed and bemused’ at what he admitted was an ‘embarrassing’ attendance.
It came a month after almost 100 residents and business owners attended the annual meeting in neighbouring Woodhall Spa.
Tony Cranwell, one of the residents who attended the Horncastle meeting, said the town council had an ‘obvious’ problem communicating with local people and businesses.
He claimed the recent arguments between councillors over ex-mayor Bill Aron’s expenses had ‘turned people off’.
Chairman Coun Brian Burnidge said the town council had tried ‘various means’ to improve lines of communication.
He said they had heavily promoted the annual meeting - including using social media.
Coun Burbidge added that as a member of several town organisations, he had campaigned to get more people and businesses involved in projects.
Coun Burbidge said: “Clearly, we have an issue (with communication) and it’s something we need to sort out – and the sooner the better.”
Coun Burbidge again stressed it was important to ‘move on’ from from events of the last few weeks.
He added he was ‘concerned’ more councillors had not attended the meeting but explained some had sent apologies for valid reasons.