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A Summary of the Town Council Meeting on 10th March 2014

Friday 21 March 2014, 12:18
By John Smith

Wincanton Town Hall,Town Council Office and Tourist Information

The meeting of the Town Council on Monday 10th March should have been a normal Council meeting with normal agenda issues. However, a crowd gathered on the pavement outside in support of the "Say No to Parking Charges" campaign. We understand that a Town Council representative advised them that parking was not on the agenda for this meeting. Some left, but the rest attended the meeting.

At public participation the owners of the IS Gallery pointed out what they considered to be inaccuracies in the minutes of the meeting from Monday 24th February. No other statements were made in this section so the agenda continued.

Item 6 – Verbal Reports and Feedback

Here the meeting took a different direction. Referring to the previous Town Council meeting, County Councillor Anna Grosskop told Councillors of her disappointment at the way in which she had been treated at the meeting on 24th February. She had tried to offer pertinent information to the Councillors, she stated, but was prevented from speaking.

Item 8 – Local Plan

This point generated some heated discussions about the wording relating to the number of homes to be built in Wincanton. The plan quoted "at least 703 homes". It was suggested that the words "at least" meant that it was open season for developers to build far more than 703 homes. Who's to say 703 won't become 1000?

Speaking to Councillor Winder afterwards, he explained to me that the plan, as it is, allowed for the 703 homes to be built, but allowed flexibility for further construction if it was decided that it was needed. This was not an open season for developers to build hundreds of unwanted homes.

Councillor Winder explained that he was concerned about the effects that further building would have on local services like schools. He is concerned that houses are built where new employment opportunities in the town demand them, and believes that building for the sake of creating new stock is not a good policy.

Item 9 – Correspondence

This section brought the most controversial statements of the meeting. The Town Clerk read out a letter from District Councillor Nick Colbert, which alleged that the Town Clerk and Mayor had not handled the parking issue effectively, and that they had broken Council Protocols along the way.

They were accused of ignoring a proposal from Councillor Winder that was seconded by Councillor Emery at the meeting on 24th February.

Without hesitation the Mayor called for a complaints committee to be formed to investigate the allegations. Councillors Russell, Norris and Turner-Wilcoxon were set aside to investigate the complaint submitted by District Councillor Nick Colbert.

It's clear that on this topic emotions and tempers are running high. The issue of parking (free or otherwise) is important to everyone in Wincanton.

On Wednesday, I interviewed several people who had been part of the crowd outside The Town Hall on Monday. Allegations had been made that they were told that parking was not on the agenda and that they should go home. Investigations thus far suggest that these allegations have no foundation.

To end on a positive note it was good to hear the suggestion that instead of sending the "Car Park Committee" to take on the behemoth of SSDC ill prepared, they should get together (including District and County representation) to create a strategy before they start negotiations. Mayor Deryck Lemon made what could be the most important statement of the meeting:

"We have to get this right for the town. If we don't get it right for the town, they will eat us alive."

Let's hope that it doesn't come to that.




Comments

Maisydae
Posts: 1
Comment
Good Summary
Reply #1 on : Fri March 21, 2014, 16:39:20
Having never attended a town council meeting before, and having no understanding of what they do and how they do it, I chose to attend the meeting that John describes above. It's quite the experience (especially for someone of my age), and I would urge any one who is curious as I was to go and see for themselves.

Also

Thankyou John for writing this so that others who didn't attend can see what was discussed. The official minutes are supposed to go on the TC website but at the time of writing this comment they are still not published, it has been more than 10 days since he meeting.
The Animal
Posts: 1
Comment
Hi all
Reply #2 on : Sat March 22, 2014, 16:13:01
sorry, don't have huge amount of time to read all. will be back soon to do so.
SO pleased to clock the bit about the car-parking. lets get our committee well armed and in a strong position before we send the brave soldiers off to fight for our town. good luck.

Also just to say "The Animal Of Wincanton" is now on Face book, and would be happy to continue discussions over there,
DO NOT WORRY - I wont walk away from the window ! and I urge all to link back to it when-ever I can.

Love to all

The Animal.

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