Confidence vote in Great Coates parish council amid row over village hall
VILLAGERS of Great Coates will cast their vote of confidence in their parish council as the row over the village hall continues.
At a public meeting held to discuss whether a vote of no confidence should be put to the public polls, the majority of residents there said yes.
As reported, a row going back a year-and-a-half continues to erupt between residents and Great Coates Parish Council after councillors decided to go ahead with a £300,000 loan to build a new village hall – despite more than 700 villagers signing a petition saying that they did not want it.
Residents claim the debt would push their council tax payments up by £36, arguing that it is too much and unnecessary in these times of austerity.
BLINDS & CURTAINS MADE 2 MEASURE WE COVER SCUNTHORPE & GRIMSBY...View details
Have a look at our website and view our fantastic new blinds! then you could book a free home visit were we show you more samples and help you choose your new blinds.www.grimsby-sunblinds.co.uk
Contact: 01472 809887
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Neither the chairman, Nicola Maasdam, nor vice-chairman, Bob Emmerson, of the parish council attended the meeting, which only fuelled the residents' belief that they "are not listening to the residents".
However, the move has been criticised by the parish council, which said the poll, which is not legally binding, will cost rate payers in the village around £400.
Chairman of action group Great Coates Resident Association (Grass) Ray Lawrance, a resident of 24 years, chaired the meeting. He said: "We recognise the need for something in the village, we have never objected to having a new community facility.
"All these courses of action we are taking, we are taking reluctantly. Unfortunately, we are up against people that have quite clearly shown they do not think our opinion is important. We invited all councillors to this meeting and none of them turned up.
"The last thing we want to do is abolish the parish council but now it is our only option."
Already the parish council has spent more than £45,000 on surveys, architecture and planning fees for the proposed village hall project.
Grass have put forward an alternative which would see the Reading Rooms renovated for a fraction of the price, but the parish council have deemed it not financially viable.
Danny Prest, a resident of 22 years, spoke at the meeting and formally put forward the proposal to hold the vote of no confidence.
He said: "The village council has repeatedly failed to listen to the majority of their electorate.
"Some 82.5 per cent of villagers voted no to the village council taking out the loan. That is a clear mandate from those these councillors are supposed to represent. The council has taken no notice of the results, which is their legal right, but what I have to ask, is this morally right? What authority do they believe they are acting on?
"I for one have lost confidence in them to represent my views properly and in the best interest of the village I propose a resolution for a vote of confidence."
A time scale for the vote is yet to be confirmed but members of Grass hope it will be pushed through as a matter of urgency.
Resident Dawn Stewart has lived in the village for 52 years. She said: "The vote is definitely needed. I didn't want it to go this far. As a resident of many years, I have seen a lot of changes over my time.
"Great Coates has always been a good community and to get to this stage is a great disappointment.
"The fact that no members of the council couldn't find the time to come to such an important meeting says an awful lot. It tells us everything we need to know. Through this no show I have definitely lost confidence in them altogether."
Parish clerk Kathy Nunn said: "We held our annual parish meeting for residents on May 17, and two or three days after that residents contacted us expressing their wish to hold another parish meeting.
"There is no compunction at all for councillors to attend, and both the chairman and vice chairman were busy that evening. In fact, had either attended, they would have been obliged to chair the meeting.
She also questioned the wisdom of holding the poll while its request for North East Lincolnshire Council (NELC) to carry out a community governance review of the parish council was still being considered.
She said: "There is no purpose to the poll. It is just a paper exercise. At our meeting on June 8 the parish council advised Grass that there was no point in holding this poll, but they have gone ahead with it anyway, and it will cost the village upwards of £400."
A spokesman for NELC said: "The council, when conducting a Community Governance Review, will need to draw up the terms of reference of the review and will also have to take account of the views of the local electors in carrying out any such review, including the views given at the recent meeting held by residents."