Village gripped by bingo wars

By Patrick LowmanVOLUNTEERS have reacted furiously after they were banned from holding their weekly bingo sessions after a parish councillor received a police warning over her behaviour.

By Patrick Lowman

VOLUNTEERS have reacted furiously after they were banned from holding their weekly bingo sessions after a parish councillor received a police warning over her behaviour.

Great Cornard parish councillor Carol Beer, 57, was warned by Sudbury police after she shoved her disabled neighbour, Molly Kirby, during a heated row at the community drop-in centre where the bingo sessions are held.

Ms Kirby, who lives just two doors away from Miss Beer, said the councillor had shoved her off her feet and sent her crashing into tables during an argument at the centre in Poplar Road, Great Cornard, on May 25.

The 56-year-old Multiple Sclerosis sufferer claimed she had been shoved so hard it had knocked her off her feet and left her bruised.

Miss Beer has denied it had been a hard shove and described the incident as nothing but “a tiff between two women”.

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But Great Cornard Parish Council has now infuriated members of the bingo volunteer group by stopping it from using the centre.

The defiant volunteers labelled the council's action “disgusting” and called for it to resolve the matter as soon as possible.

In response to being locked out of their usual venue, about 20 bingo players gathered yesterday in the back garden of group secretary Jackie Cowling's home to play their weekly game.

She said: “We are very annoyed with the council, but it won't get the better of us. They say the centre is supposed to bring the community together, so why have they penalised us all over one incident? I think it is disgusting.

“Lots of people who attend the bingo session are disabled and it is one place we can all meet up. If we can't go back to the centre, I will keep doing the bingo in my garden.”

Group chairman, Sabiha Pettitt, added: “We are absolutely disgusted by the way the council has acted, we can't even get an answer on why it has done it.

“I do think the parish council should ask for the facts and deal with the incident properly and not penalise the group over a situation that was not caused by them.”

Members of the parish council met on Friday to discuss the use of the drop-in centre for the bingo sessions.

It was decided the use of the centre would be suspended until further discussions were held between parish councillors and members of the volunteer group.

Great Cornard Parish Council vice-chairman, Humphrey Todd, said the decision to suspend the bingo club had nothing to do with the incident involving Miss Beer and Ms Kirby.

He explained Miss Beer had been put in charge of the bingo sessions in March in an effort to raise funds for the annual Christmas party that is held for pensioners.

But Mr Todd confirmed he had received a letter saying Miss Beer was not welcome to attend the sessions any longer.

“If the group wants to take over the running of the bingo sessions, then we need to talk to them about it,” added Mr Todd.

“The decision has nothing to do with the incident involving Miss Beer. We are responsible for public funds, so any new arrangements must be discussed.

“The bingo club has been suspended for the time being, but I will arrange a meeting with the volunteer group.”

Miss Beer was informally warned by Sudbury police after she shoved Ms Kirby, who has now complained to the Standards Board of England over her neighbour's behaviour. “I want her banned from being a councillor,” she said.

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