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Interim Normandy Councillors Start to Sort Out ‘Imploded’ Council

Published on: 12 Mar, 2021
Updated on: 12 Mar, 2021

By Hugh Coakley

Normandy Parish Council was resurrected last night (March 11) when five interim councillors, appointed by Guildford Borough Council, met online.

Showing their support and interest, 35 members of the public also joined the Zoom meeting, several of them taking advantage of some open sessions in which they were allowed to speak.

It was the first meeting of the parish council since seven of the nine councillors resigned in February. The interim councillors have taken over until an election can take place on May 6.

Geoff Doven is now the only parish councillor still in place from the previous council. He did not attend last night’s meeting.

The meeting was informed that Peter Palmer, who now resides in France but who had refused to confirm his parish councillor status when questioned by The Dragon last month, had resigned by email. Geoff Doven, the only surviving councillor from the previous administration, did not attend but sent his apologies. Also absent was the parish clerk, Leslie Clarke. He has taken sick-leave.

See previous Dragon articles here.

Members of the public were encouraged to speak. “It is your council, not ours,” said David Bilbe who chaired the meeting.

Resident Tracey Palmer-Scott offered support by “engaging with the previous councillors and fellow villagers to understand the reasons and concerns and share our findings… because without that we are not going to attract the people we require.

“This is an extraordinarily exciting time for our village and an opportunity to set our new parish council up for success. We most certainly welcome your support, transparency and steer.”

Another resident, Mr Allan Jones stressed the importance of governance in such matters as the timely issuing of agendas and meeting minutes.

The interim parish councillors, all Guildford Borough councillors, David Bilbe, Paul Spooner, Fiona White, Bob McShee and Ramsey Nagaty, voted through an action plan, including setting up a finance and administration committee and a HR committee, to allow the council to continue to function.

Interim Normandy parish councillors Paul Spooner, David Bilbe, Bob McShee, Ramsey Nagaty, Fiona White all borough councillors at GBC.

Setting up a new bank mandate was also agreed as a key action. In the meantime, GBC has taken responsibility for making necessary payments.

Paul Spooner noted that Normandy had the highest precept in the borough. David Bilbe expressed his doubts as to how the council had been functioning, saying: “I can’t tell you how the finances work today. It is unacceptable.”

Cllr Bilbe said he had tried to gain access to the parish records since the council had “imploded”. A meeting arranged with the parish clerk had been postponed. He said he had been told of water damage to parish records held in the clerk’s loft.

Resident, Ian Rose, said there were reports of mice eating the records in the shed which acted as the clerk’s office. He advised the interim council to access the records in the container on the Manor Fruit Farm as he thought previous councillors had had keys to the container. Mr Bilbe said: “Maybe it is a job for bolt cutters and a new lock.”

Members of the public were asked to leave the meeting for confidential matters to be discussed under the agenda item “Support for NPC going forward”. This allows for staffing, legal and other confidential matters to be addressed.

The date for the next meeting of the PC is to be arranged.

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Responses to Interim Normandy Councillors Start to Sort Out ‘Imploded’ Council

  1. Ian Rose Reply

    March 24, 2021 at 9:06 pm

    In the article above it is reported: “Ian Rose said that there were reports of mice eating the records in the shed which acted as the clerk’s office.” I wish to clarify this information because as it stands it appears to be defamatory to the parish clerk and his reputation.

    The store shed has been used for the temporary storage of parish records in the past. It is definitely not his office which is a summer house situated to the rear of his property, installed and fitted out at his own expense. He informs me that his office has never suffered rodent damage.

    He also informs me that all the keys for the container are held in his office.

    When I spoke at the meeting it was not my intention to be critical or offensive to Leslie Clarke but to help the new councillors locate where the parish records might be held. I offer my apologies to him if I have caused any offence to him or his reputation.

  2. Peta Malthouse Reply

    March 25, 2021 at 5:45 pm

    Parish Council records require proper care.

    I was amazed to see in an earlier report in The Dragon that the shed next to the property, where the current clerk lives, was used to store records that had been damaged because the roof had blown off. Amazed because it is a relatively new shed and no one locally was aware that that had happened.

    Had there been storm damage, arrangements to move the items to an alternative dry location should have been made straight away.

    I am aware that at one stage the parish council was using the British Legion, situated next door to the Clerk’s home, to store documents. One wonders why they were not approached.

    Similarly the records in the roof, which I understood are the council’s legal documentation. They too should not have been left there if a leak in the roof was discovered.

    When one reads reports like this one cannot help but become even more concerned.

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