Is Hadleigh’s parish poll on future of town council a waste of money?

Hadleigh Guildhall, the home of Hadleigh Town Council, pictured from St Mary's Church yard Picture:

Hadleigh Guildhall, the home of Hadleigh Town Council, pictured from St Mary's Church yard Picture: JERRY TURNER - Credit: Archant

Voters who backed plans to unseat a Suffolk town council have rejected accusations the campaign is a waste of money, cooked up on social media.

Hadleigh Town Council has faced concerns about the way it is run, culminating in last week’s public meeting when it was agreed to hold a parish poll asking whether all members should resign.

MORE: Residents vote to hold referendum proposing mass resignation at troubled Suffolk councilDuring recent months, the council has been troubled by infighting between older and newer members, which led to mediators being called in.

Bill Wilson, who organised the meeting, having resigned from the council, said he hoped the poll could bring “fresh blood”. After the meeting, he said he felt “vindicated” by the response.

However, one of the council’s long-serving members criticised the move as a “waste of money” and “mischief making”.

Jane Haylock said that with three by-elections to be held, as well as a full election next May, there were opportunities for people to change the council without the expense of a parish poll or extra election. She also said the poll’s results could not compel resignations.

While Mrs Haylock acknowledged there had been difficulties at the council, she claimed these had been created by a minority of councillors failing to accept majority decisions. She claimed the recent criticism of the council had been inflated on social media and did not represent the wider community.

“I was not elected to serve on the council to waste money on unnecessary elections called by unaccountable people on social media,” she added.

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Mr Wilson said the poll would cost roughly £3,000, which is “a small price to pay”, given the money he claims the current council plans to spend on projects “with little or no public consultation”. “This is why I don’t think we can wait for the election in 2019,” he added.

Steve Allman, one of four founding members of Hadleigh Together, a Facebook group set up recently, also rejected Mrs Haylock’s claims about the negativity being driven by social media. “Our group has grown quickly to have 400 followers who represent a good cross-section of Hadleigh,” he said. “It’s given people an opportunity to engage with issues which the town council has been unable or unwilling to do.”

The poll will be held at a date, yet to be confirmed, next month.

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