Sunday, 22 January 2017

It’s Hemingbrough Parish Councillor Rutting Season again. (1)

Waking from hibernation, it’s hard to differentiate between dreams, nightmares and reality.  A short stroll in Main Street on Christmas morning cleared my head.  That ****** lawnmower is back in conversations again nine years after it exploded into a Council meeting.  So are the £5.00 and £10.00 notes given to Senior Citizens at Christmas until a few years ago.

The January Parish Council confirmed it.  Testosterone-fuelled tensions are rising.  Old stags are gathering their hinds for the symbolic mating.  Bellowing and roars cross the Council table.  As the May Rut confirms or appoints a new Council Chairman, the clashing of horny antlers will be heard for a few months.

Politically astute Chairman Strelczenie pushes ahead with village housekeeping and improvements while some colleagues grind their axes.  Regular visitors to the Bear Garden public gallery can spot four factions.  Those who want to keep the hardened Old Stag.  Those planning to oust him.  The Hagg Lane Green Group Protection Fanatics.  The private venture Village Hall Group sometimes mistaken for a Council Committee.  There aren’t many who genuinely get on with all the parish responsibilities without axes.

Until May, residents cannot be sure which agenda topics genuinely concern residents, and which are part of the ritual, rutting season. 

The Council shut the public out of a pre-rut warm-up by declaring discussions of the Village Green Registration Update were not for their ears. They waited until the December meeting was underway before declaring their decision instead of listing it in advance on the agenda.  Their ploy suggests they were about to discuss a topic during which they may breach a legal obligation to keep information confidential.  Alternatively, they may have simply decided they didn’t want the public to know what was going on, which they shouldn’t do!  Either way, they let the cat out of the bag.  The Hagg Lane Green Wars may have entered a new phase.  The private Hagg Lane Green Group wants to own the land already registered as a Hemingbrough Village Green.       

A Councillor mumbled about it at the January meeting which sounded like ‘no progress’ but it was hard to hear in the public gallery.  Deliberately so?  This topic brought ‘the Lawnmower’ back into village conversations. (More later).

The innocuously described agenda item 8(i) “United Charities” must have been part of the rutting ritual.  At least one Councillor must have wanted this surprising agenda addition to be discussed in public.  It harks back to the requirement for the Council to curtail involvement in the Hemingbrough United Charities (Registered Number 224203).  The Council has the lawful right only to recruit and appoint Trustees when the Charity formally notifies it there is a vacancy.  

The Press reported the Council’s inapt connection that brought the ‘Grandiosh of Tosh’ to prominence and revealed the subsequent shenanigans.  Anyone wondering why it surfaced again will have to rely on the village grapevine as the Item was withdrawn without discussion. 

Maybe the Letter to the Council distributed to Councillors with the agenda (see below for excerpt) was the reason.  Maybe it reminded them of the official Parish Council statement that remains on file and their role in withdrawing the Christmas money.

“Statement from the Chairman of the Parish Council, December 2011”

“Many of you will already be aware that the Parish Council turned down the donation request from Hemingbrough United Charities for £1000 this year and I would like to take this opportunity to explain the reasons for this decision which are twofold. 

Firstly, following an investigation by external auditors, as a result of concerns raised by a resident, they reported ‘we have concluded that the procedural approach taken by the Council may have resulted in an unlawful item of expenditure’. 

The Council clearly must take responsibility for the part they played in agreeing donations in previous years. Secondly, there had been concerns raised by the Charity Commission itself regarding how the Hemingbrough United Charities was being administered.  They advised that the Charity was in breach of its Constitution by setting an age limit for recipients - the Charity was for ”the poor", and poor people come in all ages not just when they get to 70 years old.  

The Parish Council will, of course, continue to support this worthwhile cause when these issues have been resolved and the Charity is being managed in line with its Constitution.

Kristina Wilkinson.  Chairman, Hemingbrough Parish Council”   

Anything is possible during the rut!  Here is a reminder of the 2016 Rut.

I think it was very fortunate that Councillor Procter did not take over the Council.  This view is of the January 2017 Council discussing a planning application for 21+ dwellings on land to the east of School Lane.  Councillor Procter and two of his colleagues, a quarter of the Council,  are outside the room having declared "interests" in that application.  Someone remarked that Procter's scheme to build a village hall might involve the same land wanted for housing.   

(To be continued)