Laurie Tucker wades into debate on double-counting of CCP achievements
Laurie Tucker has confirmed the blurred relationships between the Colnbrook Community Partnership and the Parish Council that led to the recent double-counting of achievements.
The former chair of Colnbrook Parish Council has unintentionally drawn attention to the lack of openness and transparency in the relationship that exists between the Parish Council and the unelected Colnbrook Community Partnership.
While the Parish Council took credit recently for £300K of funding raised by the CCP, Tucker said the CCP was financially dependent on and took direction from the Parish Council in its day to day activities.
Until now the CCP has always objected to being labelled the council’s “funding arm”, and maintained it is completely independent despite reporting in to Parish Council meetings.
He made his comments in his submission to the recent review into the borough’s three parish councils.
Slough Borough Council has published the submissions to the recent Community Governance Review, which concluded that Colnbrook Parish Council generally delivers value but fails to engage with residents.
Writing as Chair of the CCP, a position he has held since 2006 without deference to the community, Laurie Tucker made a vigorous defence of the Parish Council highlighting “the colour and brightness to the community” brought about from the hanging baskets and Christmas lighting.
He also said that the funding of additional PCSOs “would not happen” without a parish council.
Tucker is one of three trustees of the CCP, along with former councillor Michael Nye and Vice-Chair of the Parish Council Ray Angell.
Tucker said the Colnbrook Community Partnership, the quango that raises funds for projects from local land fill operators and polluters, “is supported by the Parish Council with regular funding”.
Former councillor and freeman of the parish, Mr Tucker also confirmed – as previously revealed in Colnbrook Views – that CCP priorities are driven by the Parish Council, despite the claimed independence:
“[The Parish Council] hold surgeries and forums where residents can have their say and a lot of what the Colnbrook Community Partnership works on come about by the interaction of the public at these meetings.”
The Parish rejected new powers available under the Localism Act 2011 including access to a Community Infrastructure Levy. This can replace s.106 agreements and provide vital sources of funding – but with restrictions the extra cash is used for projects to improve local infrastructure, and strict governance on how the money is spent.
CCP projects such as the Green Flag awards for Colnbrook Recreation Ground and Pippins Park, enhancing the conservation zone, and erection of the Diamond Jubilee Clock – among others – featured heavily in reasons expressed for keeping the Parish Council in its current form. All were attributed to the Parish Council in the chair’s official submission to the review.
Cllr Mann from the Slough Borough Council review group noted that there was a huge discrepancy between the three parish councils in terms of services provided and funding.
“The impression was that the Parish Council were doing a great deal of work at a relatively lower cost than Britwell Parish Council.”
Mr Tucker did not disclose his position as former Parish Council chair in his contribution, writing that the registered charity had “been made aware” of the review.
Neither did fellow trustee Michael Nye who wrote simply as a resident since 1978.
“The Parish Council, in recent times, has brought many enhancements into our community, including the encouragement of many voluntary groups, proactively engaged in enhancing life in Colnbrook and Poyle.”
After reeling off a list of impressive CCP achievements including new children’s play facilities, plans for a new tennis court, the revamp of Westfield Community Hall, and of St Thomas’ Church Quiet Garden, and the bio-diversity project in Crown Meadow, Nye added:
“The scale of achievements … is indicative of a community working together, encouraged by the Parish Council, who provide a cohesive umbrella of engagement to most groups who have a positive contribution to make to village life”.
The third trustee, Cllr Ray Angell, did not make a personal submission having had the benefit of a face to face meeting on 21st March, along with Cllr Hood. His wife, however, did as a representative of the Colnbrook Residents’ Association.
What do YOU think?
Should the CCP be opened up to local democracy? Do we need more openness and transparency about where the local proceeds of landfill tax is spent or are you happy with the current system? Should spending priorities be driven by residents or former councillors?