The defeated motion by Cllr Maria Mackness proposing a procedure to determine which correspondence (letters or emails) should go before councillors was an uncontroversial one. You’d think any democratic institution should have guidelines for highlighting important petitions from local residents and bringing these forward for attention by elected representatives. You’d be wrong, at least here in Ledbury.
So when it had the chance to enact a small measure to improve its accountability and demonstrate its commitment to transparency, Ledbury Town Council voted to upheld its cherished values of secrecy, concealment and subterfuge.
That the motion was brought forward at all was an indictment. Letters, questions, complaints, suggestions from local voters are routinely filtered and removed from view by the Town Clerk at her discretion. Only those which are deemed ‘suitable’ seemingly find their way into councillors’ inboxes. Who is the unelected Clerk (and her covert political advisers) to decide which letters are attended to and which ignored?
The oppressive control of the shadowy circle that grips power in this town is unfair, manipulative, and dangerous. The evidence is clear: these players are stitching up the Neighbourhood Plan for their own purposes, spending money outside of regulations, stamping on dissent from within and engaged in campaigns of character assassination against those who dare to disagree. On top of everything else, the Council achieves very little of practical substance but costs a fortune to run.
This issue is not about letters, it’s about honesty, openness and democratic integrity. All we ask for is that councillors and council staff tell the truth and follow the rules. Right now, we are far from that place.
Fellow citizens: I want to make a proposal. The time has come to call this Town Council to account; to bring them into full view and have them answer questions. The subject under discussion is democratic transparency in all its forms. I need ten voters to sign, with me, a request for an official Parish Meeting. In this forum, we the people, can make our views known, face to face, unfiltered and uncensored. If you support this, please email me, Rich@Richhadley.net or telephone 07973 401860.
Regardless of the predictable insults and the endless denials, I will not be deterred. The time has come to tackle this time-wasting town council, to speak up for our town, and defend our local democracy. Be part of the change.