Chair’s Christmas message pours cold water on Parish Council change
Cllr Peter Hood used his Christmas message to seemingly reject wholesale improvements of the parish council, and to instead lavish praise on his deputy vice-chair Ray Angell.
In his first public statement since the Community Governance Review found failings Cllr Hood chose to stress again the value of councillors’ contributions to the community and the “many significant letters of support” received.
… I had included an estimated value of the unpaid work … The chairman of the review committee commented that the value I had indicated [£39,200] was in his opinion a significant underestimation. On reflection he probably was correct.
The comments appeared in the Parish Council Newsletter distributed to all homes in Colnbrook, Poyle, Brands Hill and Westfield this week and paid for out of local taxes.
He paid tribute to Cllr Kishurbhai Laxman’s “wise contributions”, and said constant contact with local people in his pharmacy provided “balanced feedback” to the parish on residents’ views.
But he saved the most praise for right hand man Ray Angell.
Describing Cllr Angell as “the engine room of the Council”, he said the vice-chair has been “at the heart of Colnbrook” and had a reputation that extends across Slough.
Cllr chose not to respond to accusations made by former Cllr Leslie Jarrett on his resignation in September against himself or or Cllr Angell.
But acknowledging that some of the feedback had indicated “where we could possibly improve things”, Cllr Hood said councillors were keen to improve engagement “where they can”.
Slough Borough Council published its draft review findings in July, saying:
… if it is to be truly representative of local residents, the Parish Council needs to be more open and inclusive. It needs to reach out more and be more receptive to new ideas and more responsive to local views
However it failed to publicise or consult residents on the impact of the proposals submitted to the Davies Commission despite the three month consultation that followed publication of the 52 proposals on August 7.
Colnbrook was the only village locally not to have formally engaged its residents on the proposals and the threat it brings to the village.
72% of resident submissions to the first round of consultations asked for major change while nearly all the responses to the second round consultation demanded a referendum on the future of the parish council.
The Review’s final recommendations left the door open to “test public opinion in an advisory poll at or after the next parish council elections in 2015 if it is not satisfied that the Parish Council is engaging more widely”.