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Walberswick: Olive branch extended over information row

08:00 10 January 2013

Walberswick

Walberswick

Archant

A VILLAGE dispute may have taken a step towards resolution following a proposal by caretaker parish councillors.

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Interim members of Walberswick Parish Council – brought in after the previous administration quit – decided to draft an apology to residents who have complained over being shut out of past proceedings.

The move follows three years of disagreement with a number of villagers over procedural conduct and correspondence – culminating last October in the mass resignation of the parish council.

Since then, four new acting members have been drafted in, and this week voted to reconcile with the blackballed complainants.

Resident John McCarthy’s dispute with the council began in May 2011 following his complaint that insufficient notice was given of a public meeting. He will receive a personal letter of apology for subsequently being handed an exclusion notice, restricting his access to proceedings.

Mr McCarthy, whose requests for information were deemed vexatious by the parish council, said: “The motion included that the parish council had wrongfully excluded me, that it carried on excluding me when told it should not, that the internal review it undertook was flawed, and that publicising my name was inappropriate.

“This is a good first step, but the parish council, in my view, will have to start behaving properly.

“There are a number of outstanding freedom of information requests that need to be addressed.

“I will need to see the apology. I am incensed at the way I feel I have been treated.”

The proposed apology was voted against by one councillor, former chairman, David Webb, who was among the five to step down in October but returned as the only candidate to fill a seat previously left vacant by his late brother.

Mr Webb said his vote was based on the wording of the apology but expressed “sincere hope” that the dispute could now be resolved. He added: “When I resigned, I read out an apology I had intended to make. I think apologies are a two way thing.”

The council has been reviewing the delegation of correspondence and will seek to reinstate an elected parish council as soon as possible.

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