“I wish we could all co-operate” says Hood as CCA votes to publicise Parish Council review
A new rift has opened up between the Parish Council and Colnbrook Community Association over the Community Governance Review, the Slough Observer reports today. However all is not as it seems, as the Observer is accused of mischief-making.
At its Annual General Meeting on Tuesday, CCA members voiced concern that residents had not been given sufficient opportunity to contribute to the Community Governance Review being undertaken by Slough Borough Council. The review will decide the future of the three parish councils within Slough – and whether they remain fit for purpose.
However, while the newspaper reports that the CCA agreed to hold its own consultation, the Association angrily disputes this.
“The CCA doesn’t have a position on the future of the Parish Council”.
CCA Secretary and Parish Councillor Charles Burke complained to Colnbrook Views that the newspaper is mischief-making.
“Given the antipathy shown towards the CCA in the past, all we want to do is to make sure residents know about it [the Review], and are given the opportunity to give their views. Only the Parish Council itself and a few select groups have been consulted so far. How democratic is that?”
Chair Peter Hood has been quick on the defensive however.
“This review is being done by Slough Borough Council, so it’s up to them to publicise it. No councillor has put forward a proposal to publicise the governance review.
Cllr Hood, along with Cllr Barbara Underhill, attempted to close the CCA down in July 2011, complaining about “hurt, bad feeling and disharmony” and urging the CCA to “quietly fade away in the best interest of all concerned”. Then a member of the CCA, Cllr Hood’s demand was put to an Extraordinary General Meeting of the CCA. Members unanimously rejected the motion and trustees voted to terminate the memberships of Hood – who abstained on his own motion – along with Cllrs Underhill.
The long-defunct Colnbrook Residents Association was resurrected shortly after, which reports in to Parish Council meetings.
Hood told the Observer:
“I wish the CCA well in anything constructive they achieve for this community. I wish we could all cooperate.”
In May last year at the Council’s own AGM, Hood was asked if he would instruct the CRA to engage constructively for the good of the community, but replied only “if the mutual respect was there, and it didn’t seem to be“.
Austerity being what it is Slough Borough Council has concentrated the first phase of the review on talking to councillors, with no communication to residents. Chair Cllr Hood presented a PowerPoint to the review panel in March. While clerk Roland Hewson promised a month ago the presentation would be made public to residents following the Parish AGM, it has so far not been released.
The CCA says it is simply backing an existing effort by village groups to ensure residents are aware of the review. A leaflet is in the process of being distributed village-wide based on text on the SBC website.
Cllr Burke said,
“It’s a shame when a negative spin is put on things like this. The CCA has been working hard to make sure residents’ views are taken into account in the recent consultations into policing, boundary changes, and night flights. Nobody else is doing that. This is a once in a generation opportunity to influence our community. We’re simply telling residents what they may not already know, and asking them to send their comments directly to Slough Borough Council.”
The aim of the review is to bring about improved community engagement, better local democracy and efficient, more effective and convenient delivery of local services, and to ensure that electors across the whole borough are treated equitably and fairly.
As a result of the review, Colnbrook with Poyle Parish Council could become larger, be reduced in size or be removed altogether.
The deadline for comments has been extended to 31 May.
You can email your comments directly to the review panel to firstname.lastname@example.org, or send directly via the council’s website at www.slough.gov.uk/communitygovernancereview.
Colnbrook groups clash over governance review – Slough Observer