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Borough Council Expected to Step In and Take Control in Normandy

Published on: 16 Feb, 2021
Updated on: 16 Feb, 2021

By Martin Giles

The deeply divided Normandy Parish Council appears in its death throes. Last night (February 15), the photos and details of two of the three remaining councillors, chairman Alan Cheesman and his wife Val, vanished from its website.

This morning reports say they are informing others of their resignations.

Only two of the original nine councillors were shown on the website, Geoff Doven and Peter Palmer, who told The Guildford Dragon NEWS he thought his membership had lapsed, apparently confirmed by the council minutes which show he has not attended a meeting for more than six months.

If the resignations of Mr and Mrs Cheesman are officially confirmed, that would leave the council inquorate, unable to function for the parish’s 3,000 population.

Under section 91 of the Local Government Act 1972, the “principal” council, in this case Guildford Borough Council, has power to appoint temporary members to a parish council that could not function due to vacancies until an election can be held.

GBC does not appear to have a published process for dealing with inquorate parish councils but those of other councils include provision for appointing county and borough councillors of that division and ward, and from neighbouring wards as necessary, to form a temporary parish council.

Conservative county councillor Keith Witham’s Worplesdon division covers Normandy and David Bilbe, also Conservative, is the ward’s sole borough councillor.

The present position of the parish clerk, Mr Leslie Clarke, is not clear. He has told The Dragon he has been signed off sick and refused to answer questions until he returns to work.

The beginning of the end of the council appears to have followed a January 27 meeting when the shortcomings of audits in 2020 were to be discussed. Some parish councillors were unhappy with the chairmanship, in particular the treatment of borough Cllr Bilbe, attending as a Normandy resident to question the audit results.

After a subsequent informal meeting of parish councillors three resigned. Since then there has been a series of departures, and now apparently those of the chairman and his wife. There has been no official statement or published letters of resignation.

Former councillor Neil Aust initially refused to confirm his status, eventually verifying his resignation on social media.

Cllr David Bilbe

Cllr Bilbe has commented: “We appear to have no functioning local council as a result of the extraordinary number of resignations.

“I am concerned that a series of questions relating to audit failings would have such a significant effect and I am sure that the reasons for that will become clear in time.

“However, for now we need appropriate controls to be established and the first priority is to manage the bank account access for the smooth and appropriate running of local matters.”

James Whiteman, Guildford Borough Council’s managing director said this evening: “We are aware of the situation and are currently looking at what action we can take to enable Normandy Parish Council to function lawfully.”

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test One Response to Borough Council Expected to Step In and Take Control in Normandy

  1. Russell Morris Reply

    February 19, 2021 at 6:09 am

    Is anyone in Normandy interested in promoting a twinning link with Handforth in Cheshire?

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