Could council appointments finally mean peace in Walberswick?
- Credit: Sarah Lucy brown
A troubled Suffolk council at the centre of a long-running community row has been returned to working order more than eight months after a series of resignations brought it to its knees.
Three new members were last week drafted in to make Walberswick Parish Council quorate once again, bringing an end to months in which the picturesque coastal village had been left without its first tier of local government.
For five years the council had been locked in a bitter dispute with a small group of villagers .
The fallout from the dispute led to more than a dozen previous resignations.
The tempestuous situation had led to mass resignations in 2012, when all but one of the councillors departed, requiring Suffolk Coastal District Council to step in and make the necessary temporary appointments,
You may also want to watch:
The most recent departures last May left the council with just two members and no clerk meaning it was again unable to take decisions, set a budget or consult on planning matters. With no offers made to join the council and restore the quorum of three, Suffolk Coastal was legally required to intervene once more.
Leader Ray Herring, speaking at Thursday’s full meeting of the district council, said he hoped the appointment of three new members would now bring a lasting solution to the parish’s problems.
- 1 Mum-of-four with 'beautiful soul' dies after collapsing in the street
- 2 Ipswich U18s fall to second-half Liverpool goals - how the FA Youth Cup semi-final unfolded....
- 3 'Beautiful inside and out': Tragedy as mum dies 48 hours after giving birth
- 4 Steam locomotive back in Suffolk for anniversary trips
- 5 ‘Demolition Man’ Cook tells vast majority of Ipswich Town squad to find new clubs
- 6 Former judge's widow on trial for sex abuse of young boy in 1980s
- 7 'I loved my time here... I should have stayed' - Former loanee Jeffers back with Town in coaching role
- 8 Stuart Watson's Verdict: Judge Chambers and Skuse's legacy by what their peers said
- 9 Takeaway owner fined £3.5k after series of food hygiene breaches
- 10 'Larger-than-life' Ipswich drama teacher Gloria Henshall dies
“We’ve allowed breathing space for the past six to nine months for relationships hopefully to improve,” he said.
“But we do now need to move the situation on and we want to assist Walberswick, hopefully for the final time, to find that solution.”
The new appointments are: Raymond Catchpole, the village’s district councillor; Philip Dunnett, an experienced parish and district councillor, and Paul Widdowson, who is a parish clerk. It is hoped they will fulfil the roles on a temporary basis until more local representatives can be found.
Mr Catchpole said he was looking forward to the challenge and he “hopes this will be a good opportunity to move forward.”
However, John MacCarthy, one of four villagers embroiled in the dispute with the council, has raised doubts their appointment will solve anything.
Speaking after the meeting he said that complaints about the way the parish council conducted its business, which he and other villagers had raised previously, should have been addressed by Suffolk Coastal but had not. He also said there was too little time for the new councillors to agree a budget or set a precept in time for this year’s financial deadline.
“If they think this is the solution, it is not – all it does is compound the problem,” he said. “The only reason they are taking action now is because they face the prospect of not being able to raise a precept from Walberswick. It’s a total shambles.”