LETTER: My review of Bardney Parish Council meeting

I was going to write this as a general letter concerning the lack of information you get from Bardney Group Parish council but after attending the Parish Council meeting on Thursday 23/04/15, I thought it was more appropriate to give a review of my thoughts and to allow residents some idea of what was discussed.

If you visit the BGPC website, you will notice that the last ratified minutes are dated 20/11/14 and the Amenities committee 10/07/14. I was unable to open any minutes for the Finance and the Personnel & Review committees.

The present council did promise 18 months ago to produce an information sheet for its parishioners explaining what they were doing, but once more this hasn’t occurred. This leaves a lot of parishioners in the dark about how their council is governed and what they spend our money on.

After deciding to go to the meeting, I checked on the website and found that it was being held at the fire station; thankfully I saw the agenda in our notice board as they had changed it to Bardney village hall (not the first time it has been changed).

Arrived there at 6:50 as the meeting was scheduled to start at 7:00 to find it all locked up and some councillors and members of the 
public standing outside (thankfully a very pleasant sunny evening).

It turned out that they had changed the venue but nobody had booked the village hall. Some councillors then wanted to go back up to the fire station and hold the meeting there which would have suited the vice chairman as he was waiting at the fire station thinking it was being held there.

Cllr Webb informed them that this wouldn’t be allowed as the meeting had been advertised as being held at the village hall, so obviously would then be classed as an illegal meeting, this was supported by Ian Fleetwood, our 
local District & County Councillor.

This surprised me as I remember attending a meeting on 20/03/14 advertised as being held at Bardney Methodist hall which ended up being held in the Church. I can only assume that any decisions made at that meeting would be classed as void? There was then a mad rush around to see if they could get the key for the village hall and it was opened up at 7:20.

The first thing I noticed was the lack of agendas for the parishioners to read (there were only 4 copies) and as the agenda wasn’t on the website, it made following the meeting very difficult.

The next point was that the meeting wasn’t recorded, so was reliant on written notes from the temporary clerk to give a true and accurate account of the meeting.

The parishioners were then given 15 minutes to express any concerns and worries they had. They probably could have done with double the amount of time as there were a lot of worries and concerns.

One interesting point was the Chair said this was only to bring matters to the council, not to sort them out! There were concerns expressed about the delay in getting a bus shelter for Southrey as the original quotes were now out of date due to the length of time it has taken the council to do anything. Someone asked why there was no publicity for Irene Hewitt being awarded the “Rogers Shield” for all the hard work she puts into the village.

There was a discussion on water being provided to the allotments and someone asked was this the £7,850 in the precept budget, the vice Chair denied this until it was pointed out by another councillor that this was the amount in the precept. Some people asked what the 24.7% increase in their council tax was for and why had the council raised it by such an extortionate amount when West Lindsey had a 0% increase.

The Chairs comment on what it was to be spent on was “you will have to wait and see”. If you can work out the precept minutes there seems to be some very interesting points on what they want to spend.

The budget is just under £96,000. These include £7,875 for the allotment. £17,570 for the Cemetery which includes £11,000 just for grass cutting alone.

It will be interesting to see what the final bill will be for the grass cutting contract and did we get value for money from it? It even has Handyman expenses £1,000 but we haven’t got a handyman anymore!

The Chair then stated that ex-councillors Andrew Dryden and Doz Grassick had retired. I suppose this is the new word for resigned as he had stated in the Horncastle News that no councillors had resigned.

It’s a shame, as I had heard they were trying to make a difference to Bardney Group Parish Council. On that note, I was very impressed with Cllr Rob Webb. It’s nice to see a councillor who was willing to stand up and question other members of the council until he had an answer he was willing to accept. Shame they haven’t got many with the same resilience.

Someone at the meeting did mention that the Amenities committee had been abandoned, but not confirmed.

Our district and County Councillor Ian Fleetwood contributed to general matters from WLDC and

Lincoln County including that they hoped that the Canwick Road development in Lincoln would be completed in three weeks. A member of the public asked why they were shutting Mere Lane for 
four days between the A15 as this was the main diversion for the Canwick Road improvements.

One Cllr then arrived late, but had sent his apologies.

Other matters were briefly discussed although in some cases, they came to no conclusion:

The vice chairman stated that the council were not in a position to complete the external audit in time and had been given an extension to 15/07/15.

Planning matters were on the WLDC website.

Bardney Gala was given a grant to support this year’s event.

Discussed repairing the fence at St. Lawrence’s church, but not sure what fencing to get.

Discussed concerns over Bardney Doctors surgery, but unsure of what was being discussed.

Discussed dog fouling on the allotments and the use of the dog warden.

Provisionally accepted next year’s timetable of meetings. Hope they get the venues correct this time?

To adopt the Stainfield telephone box, but not sure how much this will cost.

Councillor’s Ward reports - Concerns over the level of some graves in the cemetery; development at the Hawthorns on Station Road, and the lack of maintenance in the village park

At this point we were all asked to leave the meeting so they could discuss the grass cutting contract renewal and quotations from Anglian Water for supplying water to the allotments. There was also a report by the Chair to the Personnel & Review committee.

This was a very “interesting” meeting with a lot of talking. Just hope there is more action to go with it.

I would have liked to ask the Chair what were his views as a Liberal Democrat on the statement by Nick Clegg, that people owing second homes should pay double the council tax? Another point worth mentioning is whether giving a £1,000 grant to a self-funded charity is allowed in the Parish constitution, but I may be wrong?

Mike McKenna