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Lincolnshire parish councillors quit over 'public purse concerns'

By East Lindsey Target  |  Posted: June 20, 2012

RESIGNED:  Councillors Hazel Newcombe and Christine Young have resigned from Chapel St Leonards parish council after many year over concerns about the public purse and code of conduct.

RESIGNED: Councillors Hazel Newcombe and Christine Young have resigned from Chapel St Leonards parish council after many years over concerns about the public purse and code of conduct.

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CONCERNS about the operations at a coastal parish council have led to a pair of long-serving members resigning.

Chapel St Leonards Parish Councillors Hazel Newcombe and Christine Young have both written to clerk, Michael Green, informing him of their decision to quit.

Mrs Newcombe, who maintains her position as a district councillor, said the 'final straw' came at a meeting last Monday evening which she has described as one of the worst she had been to.

She criticised discussions held when the council was in closed session, meaning the details cannot be discussed in public, but cited an alleged disregard for the code of conduct and concerns over use of the public purse amongst the reasons for her decision.

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In her resignation letter, she wrote: "After the events at last night's meeting, it is clear to me that I am unable to continue in my role as a parish councillor with the present atmosphere within the council.

"The parish council is the custodian of public funds, and in my opinion there is currently a cavalier attitude with the public purse and indeed the code of conduct.

"I am not prepared to be part of any administration where I believe this is allowed to continue so therefore I tender my resignation."

Mrs Young's letter of resignation cited similar reasons for her decision.

She wrote: "I can not and will not, in my opinion, accept the malpractice the council is executing in its business. This only causes unrest and disquiet amongst members and gives the chairman a difficult task to control."

Both women have served on the council for many years, Mrs Newcombe since 1999 and Mrs Young since 2002 and worked to rebuild its reputation following the conviction of its former clerk, Patricia Marie Hibbert, for stealing £7,951 belonging to the council between April 2006 and June 2007.

Mrs Newcombe, told the Target: "I haven't done this lightly, I have really given it some thought but I look at it how we are serving the community best and we are not doing that going round in circles having endless arguments and disagreements. I know the electorate elected me three times because they thought I was doing a good job and I feel at this time we are not allowed to do so by constant petty squabbling.

"I will still attend all parish council meetings in my role as a district councillor and residents know I am available."

Clerk Mr Green said: "Members of the council have to adhere to a code of conduct, and indeed, the meeting on June 11 voted to adopt a new code of conduct that has been produced by the National Association of Local Councils as the current code of conduct and the standards board will shortly be defunct. I am not aware of any breaches of the code having occurred.

"With regards to the comments regarding the public purse, this council's accounts for the financial year ending March 31, 2012 have just been submitted to the external auditor for approval, having been verified by the council's appointed internal auditor, an independent firm of accountants based in Skegness. I am confident however that the accounts have been maintained properly."

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  • Gnome_Chomsky  |  June 20 2012, 10:12PM

    Neither a 'blog' nor a 'statemen', just a question. I was asking for the information you failed to provide. We regularly see local councillors resign to seek parliamentary election, and parliamentarians resign to stand as European candidates. There is potential for a conflict of interest if you stand for election to two bodies with different aims. This has been highlighted today, by coincidence, with suggestions that politicians who advocate NHS reforms at national level then oppose them in their constituencies.

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  • Fini20  |  June 20 2012, 9:33PM

    I agree with the statement that Gnome Clomsky regarding leaving over pricipal. However I do not agree on the 'conflict of interest' statemen as like previous councillors and those who are still on the concil (Mr Sharp, Mr Leivers) Mrs Newcombe was elected during the last election by both the district and parish that is why she was on the council. I believe Gnome Clomsky needs to get the correct information before writing such blogs.

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  • Gnome_Chomsky  |  June 20 2012, 9:03PM

    Nice to see councillors quitting over principles, rather than being pushed out after adverse publicity over malpractice. Not sure about Ms Newcombe having attended meetings as both parish and district councillor though. Was there no possibility of conflict of interest?

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  • M_C_Donald  |  June 20 2012, 9:38AM

    I would of thought that these two councillors could complain to a higher authority and demand an investigation if that they felt there is wrong doing going on. Or is it that they are in disagreement with the decisions the council is making and they are just causing trouble? An audit of accounts will only prove that they have maintained properly. It is not an examination of what money is spent on, only that incomings and outgoings are recorded properly with the appropriate evidence. If you are elected to be a public representative and you have evidence of wrong doing, it is you duty to address it. You vote against decisions, raise your concerns in council and ensure it is minuted and if it serious enough pursue it at a higher level. Resigning mid-term seems an easy way out and fails the people who elected you (I forgive not standing at the next election).

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