Our Response to Councillor Judy Dalton’s letter to the local papers.
I would like to respond to Cllr Judy Dalton who said in the local papers last week that she no longer wants to attend Council meetings because members of the public are being disruptive, rude and abusive.
In the interest of free and open debate I thought it might be helpful to supply a bit of background information about the goings on at Anston Parish.
Firstly Parish Councils should not be run along party lines and it is quite unusual to have the situation at Anston where two groups, Labour councillors and Independent councillors + their supporters are constantly at each other’s throats.
This situation and the huge amounts of complaints attracted the attention of Rotherham Borough Council who are responsible for Anston Parish’s conduct and they have had to send in an “Independent Person” to sort things out. This independent person did recommend training for the councillors as Judy says.
Training would certainly help as councillors currently struggle to understand briefing notes from RMBC, meeting procedures and even their own accounts. Regular attendees and independent councillors gradually became frustrated at this situation and began to push for more openness, transparency and scrutiny of the Councils affairs. Many awkward questions were asked and Labour councillors responded by battening down the hatches and pretending it wasn’t happening.
Frustration grew on both sides and meetings became more and more unwieldy, on one occasion two Police officers were summoned to throw out one pensioner who refused to sit down when the councillors ignored a letter he’d wrote.
Judy was present at this meeting and could have stepped in as an experienced councillor and shown a bit of leadership. She did not.
I would like to reiterate some of the suggestions I have made in the past to improve things:
1. Start dealing efficiently and openly with real issues that affect the most vulnerable people in Anston. Instead of carping on about hanging baskets let’s start to tackle the pockets of unemployment and deprivation in Anston and Dinnington. Let’s push for a decent bus service to the big centres of employment, Sheffield and Meadowhall. This would improve everybody’s quality of life as it would also help tackle crime and ASB.
2. Please Councillors get some training in the basics of budgets, planning and the other matters that come from RMBC. If members of the public challenge you challenge them back to suggest a better course of action.
3. Please start to work together with Dinnington Town Council, we are essentially one big community, joined at the hip. Let’s work together, this would allow us to get a much better deal when putting a case forward to bodies like RMBC. Let’s present a united front.
4. Film council meetings. It’s amazing how much more civilised people are when they know what they say might end up on YouTube. The government agrees with this and has asked councils to adopt this approach.
5. Let’s try and encourage more people to attend council meetings in Dinnington and Anston. If we start to tackle bigger issues more people will get involved.
Judy, Anston and Dinnington deserve better, so instead of threatening to take your ball in, get back in the game!