Chairman resigns amid ‘threats and unpleasantness’ over Framlingham’s community centre proposals

Framlingham Town Council chairman James Tanner, pictured inset, has resigned following threats assoc

Framlingham Town Council chairman James Tanner, pictured inset, has resigned following threats associated with new community centre proposals. Picture: ARCHANT/HOLLINS - Credit: Archant

Increasing hostility in the debate over a Suffolk town’s community centre proposals has led to threats, accusations of underhand behaviour and a council chairman’s resignation.

James Tanner announced he was stepping down from the role at last night’s Framlingham Town Council meeting, citing a “degree of unpleasantness” over the proposals which “has gradually increased, evolving to a personal level that is simply unacceptable”.

The council has been looking at options for a £1.6million centre at a site owned by the Mills Charity off Brook Lane.

Although the town has been seeking a new hall for decades, the current proposals have met with opposition from people living nearby, who fear noisy, late night events could disturb them.

The council is holding a public meeting on Wednesday, when people can have their say.

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However, opponents accused the council of “hiding” information. One public speaker at last night’s meeting said it was “like dealing with the secret service”, while another questioned whether the land being “gifted” would be used to justify the choice of site.

“It’s the wrong development in the wrong place,” they said.

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Mr Tanner insisted the council was still consulting and no decisions had been made.

Other public speakers praised the council’s work and said the threats were “deplorable”.

Mr Tanner, issuing his resignation as the meeting ended, said a councillor was a voluntary role to help the community but was no longer enjoyable.

“In particular, the opposition to the community centre proposal has become loud, aggressive and finally personal,” he added.

Mr Tanner said residents had complained of being forced to sign a petition objecting to the proposals. He said a threatening letter had been sent to his house.

“People are entitled to their own views on any matter and I would welcome and encourage this,” he added. “However the degree of unpleasantness that has gradually increased, evolving to a personal level is simply unacceptable – with whispers of underhand behaviour and suggestions of conspiracies in every corner, often by those emboldened by the anonymity of the internet.

“I can assure you categorically that no such conspiracies exist.”

He thanked the councillors and officers for their support, particularly the clerk.

The public meeting is at the Headmaster Porter Hall, Framlingham College, from 7pm on Wednesday, October 11.

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