Town mayor’s concern at consultation on future of councils

A town mayor has expressed concerns around a local governance review consultation currently being undertaken by North Lincolnshire Council.

But the claims have been refuted by council bosses, who insist they have followed all correct procedures throughout the process.

The review is looking into the future electoral arrangements of the eight town councils in North Lincolnshire and could lead to the number of councillors being reduced at some of the councils.

Consultation events are being held in each of the affected areas for people to have their say, while leaflets have also been distributed to residents.

But Mel Chatwin, town mayor of Bottesford, said he felt the full facts has not been presented to residents.

In a letter to the Scunthorpe Telegraph, Mr Chatwin said: “Myself and fellow councillors are very concerned and disappointed that the possible future of Bottesford Town Council could be jeopardised without our residents knowing the full facts appertaining to questions in the leaflet recently distributed as part of North Lincolnshire Council’s community governance review.

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“The consultation event held on February 27, as advertised in the Have Your Say leaflet, was conducted before the distribution of said leaflet. The consultation event was over before residents even received the leaflet. Bottesford residents should be advised that the town is represented by 24 councillors who cover three wards; all carrying out their duties on a voluntary basis, while receiving no salary or expenses.

The misconception regarding monetary reward was most probably a major influence for many voters.

“If this was stated in the leaflet a more balanced view no doubt would have been taken.

“Each vote was sent per household as opposed to individuals, which is not a fair representation of all residents. No explanation was offered on how the votes were to be counted and verified.

“The town council has no issue with a community governance review taking place but expected all relevant information was made available prior to any consultation event or vote occurring.

“North Lincolnshire Council democratic services have not handled this issue fairly or democratically, resulting in a distorted view being presented to Bottesford residents.”

In response, Councillor Richard Hannigan, North Lincolnshire Council’s cabinet member for governance and transformation, said: “The council refutes the suggestion that it has not handled this issue ‘fairly or democratically’.

“The council has followed all the correct procedures throughout.

“I am stunned that elected members of a town council think it acceptable to publicly criticise council officers for conducting a consultation exercise with the communities they serve. I would urge those town councillors to search their consciences and ask if they are acting in the public interest or self-interest.

“This is a major review that will consider the parishes of Barton, Bottesford, Brigg, Broughton, Crowle and Ealand, Epworth, Kirton-in-Lindsey and Winterton. It will look at town councils’ electoral arrangements, for example the ordinary year of election, council size, the number of councillors elected and parish warding.

“It is vital that we get this right and that is why we are giving people the chance to have their say. We are holding a series of consultation events in affected towns. In addition, we have sent out consultation leaflets to the affected areas.

“There is still time for people to give us their views – they have until Monday, March 27 to do so. If you have not yet received your leaflet, please get in touch by contacting Matt Nundy on 01724 296014.

Article originally published by Scunthorpe Telegraph

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