Time for councillors to resign

As we approach the annual general meeting of Draycott Council next month, it’s time once again to assess the councillors’ performance in these last twelve months.
And, looking at their record, all one can say is that it is so hopelessly dismal, that they should all resign forthwith.

The easiest way to point out our council’s embarrassing lack of achievement is to compare it against the work done by the three surrounding village councils – Forsbrook/Blythe Bridge, Fulford and Checkley/Tean. And that’s what this article is about.

By the end of this article, you might well agree that it would be a better thing for Draycott’s electors (in Draycott, Totmonslow, Cresswell, Newton etc) if the current crop of councillors simply stood down and let more energetic people take over.

Let’s look at the facts.

Covid response
In this country’s worst peacetime year for a century, nearby councils charged ahead, organising help-groups and getting grants. Fulford Council especially set a great example, putting out a special Covid newsletter, getting grants and setting up a specific action group; they even won an award for their efforts. Checkley Council recently created a small Covid memorial plantation.

But what have Draycott Council done to help? …nothing.
Local relief here was actually carried out by a small village community group and by volunteers at Blythe Bridge library.
Very poor.

No progress
Earlier this year, a resident asked at a meeting what hopes & strategy the council had for 2021. The answer was almost predictable… : ‘nothing particularly different to before’.
The resident went away, dissatisfied, to go on to become one of the founders of DCAT, the new Draycott Community Group.

A good example of how hopeless this council is is shown by its efforts to set up a Neighbourhood Plan. Over the years, three times they have started the process, including last year – only to see it collapse each time, meaning thousands of pounds has to be returned. The simple fact is these councillors lack the energy & belief to make it happen, and certainly have failed to inspire the local public.
Compare that with Checkley Council – where their five-year NPlan process is now very far advanced!
The energy in neighbouring councils is evident: Checkley and Forsbrook have even been out buying land for community projects in the last year.
And, after the NALC (National Association of Local Councils) declared a climate-action emergency more than a year ago, other local village councils have been busy setting up green policies – including Forsbrook, which has created space for a colony of bees.

By contrast, Draycott councillors have just been sitting on their hands.

Residents have been waiting & waiting: for the promised brass plaque to remember our local war dead (although the national WW1 Project started back in 2014!); for any sign of the so-called ‘Gateway’ signs for the village; for any sign of the renovation of the Draycott kiosk; for any sign of a solid local policy for the environment.
What we got instead in 2020 was … a new bin!
(It’s true that the VAS speed-signs went up last year, but that project was launched in 2018, and most of the work was done on it in 2019).

As you’d expect from all that lack of action, Draycott Council is now sitting on a fat financial reserve. Despite that, the council is still asking for the same level of council tax this year as before…
(In terms of population and responsibilities, Draycott-in-the-Moors is comparable to Caverswall, which asks for 20% less council tax).

Duties
Draycott Council has virtually no responsibilities. Unlike other surrounding councils, it manages no playground or cemetery or allotments. Because of this, it really only has two statutory duties: to comment on planning applications and to monitor the local footpath network. But the record on these is not good either.
Probably the most important planning application it was asked to look over last year was the one about the giant Blythe Fields housing estate. It completely failed to put in a comment. Which is pretty bad.
Despite promising a local-footpaths report in 2019, none has materialised. The promise was repeated in council early this year, but still nothing has appeared.

Communication
Draycott councillors admitted a few years ago that their lines of communication with local electors needed massive improvement – what was urgently need was more newsletters, development of a user-friendly website, better use of social media, engagement with local newspapers, more involvement with the local community. In other words, they needed to catch up with surrounding councils like Fulford (which produces its own monthly news updates) and Checkley, whose councillors formally liaise with their local organisations.
But in this past 12 months… you guessed it… no progress. In fact things have gone backward.

A promise to mail out two newsletters a year fizzled out (though the council did piggy-back a newsletter made by the DSGroup).
Councillors stopped engaging formally on the village Facebook page.
The website has seen no improvements.
Nowadays, no councillor represents the council on any local community organisation – the last one being on the Church Lane Renovation Group, but he resigned from that fifteen months ago.

Only in one area does Draycott Council escape criticism: it has started to get ‘the basics’ right. Agendas and minutes appear on time, supporting documents are listed properly and the finances are transparent. However, that has little to do with the councillors; the responsibility for the ‘basics’ falls to the paid staff, not to the councillors.

All in all, it’s a very, very poor record.
… and we are only comparing Draycott Council to three other councils. Suppose we’d compared it with more…

Resignations, please

Judging by this dismal record, Draycott-in-the-Moors Parish Council has simply turned into an expensive monthly talking-shop, where almost nothing is achieved. Compared to the energy and creativity of surrounding councils, Draycott councillors look tired-out and stuck in their ways.
Even the newer councillors seem unable to shake things up. In fact, during 2020, one councillor only attended four of the council’s ten meetings (even though most were on Zoom)!
Councillors have to do more than just turn up. As well as demonstrating a commitment to the betterment of an area, they have to show leadership and energy.

There is no doubt of course that most of the seven Draycott councillors are nice people – but their record simply shows the job is beyond them. It is time they did the honourable thing, and moved out of the way. They should resign now. The people of this village should not have to wait until the next elections (in 2023) to see improvements in the area.

And… we all know that there are some really energetic people in the village – who would (we think) happily step in to act as co-opted councillors until 2023. If councillors were to resign, it would give these new people the chance to show what they could do, as well as providing a much-needed injection of energy into the area.

***
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18 responses to “Time for councillors to resign

  1. It seems that not many of you know that Mark played a large part in the VVSM community-action group when much was achieved in Cresswell, including the installation of the kiosk and its defibrillator. Shelagh and I worked tirelessly with him – but VVSM were often criticised by some of the then Parish Councillors.
    I am now proud to say that I have won an election to a different council. Good to be on a Parish Council where I am appreciated.
    Jacquie Leach

    Like

  2. Be careful what you wish for. Parish councillors do have to work within some strict guidelines – and procedures can slow down lots of good initiatives. I know …. I have done it.
    Liz

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    • Draycott Community Website

      What you say is very tantalising! What issues do you think are the ones we should be thinking about in this instance?

      Like

    • Interesting question

      I wonder if the keyboard warriors want to see all the councillors resign or just some of them? Now that’s an interesting question!
      Liz

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      • Look in the mirror

        Liz, I suppose you are beign sarcastic, which is a shame, as this is a serious matter.
        Any councillor who feels that he or she is not acting to the best of their ability in their electors’ interests should resign. So, all the councillors need to look at themselves in the mirror and be honest.
        (Also I see that you still have not answered the previous question)
        Pat L

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        • Who worth keeping?

          I only asked as I found, on my own council, that certain councillors were recognised in the community as community-focussed while others as ‘old-school gentlemen’s club’….
          If the community chose out of the current crop of councillors who do they think would be worth keeping? After all, the councillors you have at Draycott all stood for election to be a councillor and the electors endorsed that offer. (As far as I can see all 7 members are elected and no co-opted members!)
          Eliza

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  3. Pathetic journalism

    Your one sided nonsense journalism is pathetic.
    Stand up and make a difference yourself instead of moaning. Clearly if you cared, you’d do something about it and get involved.
    Peter J Anonymous

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    • Thanks, Mr Anonymous. To answer your points…
      We do get involved. We do care. And we hope you do too. But… do you?
      Perhaps you’d do your own research, and send us a list of the council’s achievements in the last 12 months as you see them, especially as compared to nearby councils. We look forward to seeing it.
      Editor

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      • Your talk is hollow. YOU do nothing in the community but moan.
        Stop blaming the PC and do something yourself. When was the last time anyone saw you doing anything for the community other than mince around with your silly handbag.
        Anonymous
        ++
        EDITOR’S REPLY
        Dear Anonymous, It is very difficult dealing with trolls like you. Your mode is insult, using vaguely homophobic terms. You hide your identity.
        You clearly do not know how heavily involved in community projects we are.
        Our article was carefully researched and carefully phrased – but you are not interested in discussing the points.
        When you do want discussion, let us know.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Doesn’t seem like they ever really care about the community or nothing, they just want people vote for them so they can sit there saying they are a councillor, and I aren’t one bit sorry if anyone is offended because this is my opinion. Nothing has really changed within Draycott: I’ve been here nearly 3 years now and it’s the same old…
    Draycott is a nice village and it’s only ever the residents doing something about it. But the same time it’s bit pants for a family place: there’s nothing round here for children, not even a little park, or nice community centre, but yet still I’m not expecting anything to change because these councillors just want to sit there and tell you what they want to do – when they should listen to us, answer our questions, and work with us.
    But good luck to whoever and hope you can make Draycott more enjoyable to live in.
    Beth Mikaela Ward (from Facebook)

    Like

  5. Despite many complaints to Draycott Council about the levels of dog mess here, they have done nothing to try to sort the problem.
    Yes, compare that to Fulford Council. A few years ago, it organised a whole six-month campaign with posters and more. At least councillors care there.
    Fed-up resident
    See https://alittlebitofstone.com/2016/07/08/fulford-targets-dog-fouling-hotspots-new-campaign/

    Like

  6. Brilliant article. Can’t wait to see what replies you get from the parish councillors.
    S Wood

    Like

  7. I find this article rather peculiar, and can only presume from this that you are not a Parish Councillor or have never even bothered to put yourself out there to improve the local area, but instead someone who likes to criticise from the safety of your keyboard and not be helpful in any other way.
    Maybe greater research of the issues facing Parish Councils and perhaps getting your hands dirty by improving these issues you find so terrible would benefit not only the community but may also open your mind a little and give you some perspective on what people face on a daily basis.
    Is it not so many months ago we are asking people to be kind and helpful to one another. Disgraceful.
    Heidi

    Like

    • Reply to Heidi.

      Thanks Heidi. To answer your points.
      1/ You got it wrong: all on this website are heavily involved in local community projects. As we hope you might be.
      2/ We researched the article very carefully indeed. We even read the government documents on the role of parish councils.
      3/ As you say, people have many issues “on a daily basis” – we deserve energetic, creative and committed councillors to help us face them.

      Perhaps you’d do your own research, and send us a list of the council’s achievements in the last 12 months as you see them, especially as compared to nearby councils?
      Editor

      Like

  8. So sad to hear that nothing has changed over the years. However it appears some residents do have the courage and energy to go forward. I sincerely hope they get the opportunity. Good Luck!
    Julia W

    Like

  9. For fairness perhaps you could ask each councillor to present for this site what their achievements have been over the past few years, and give them the right to reply 👍
    Trevor Beech

    Like

    • Reply to Trevor.

      Thanks Trevor. A copy of the article has been sent to the council, and we hope for a reply. The council has an open invitation to publish its reply.
      Usually, a council also sums up its achievements for the previous year when it holds its Annual Meeting. Draycott Council holds its annual meeting this year on May 10th, so we will hear its version if its list of achievements then.
      Editor

      Like

  10. Glad to have left

    So glad I left the council.
    Have moved to Penkridge now, where it is lovely. Standing at their next bi-election on May 6th.
    Leach Leach

    Like

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