Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Who dares gets battered!

I’VE always looked upon Colyton and Colyford as one community - and indeed it is.  I’ve always been aware, of course, that Colyford is an ancient borough but the village and town have always been run by Colyton Parish Council on which Colyford has  representation, currently four out of 13 councillors, although this is not a statutory right.

There has been murmurs for a long time, however, from Colyford that the village does not get a fair deal, which has encouraged the current Mayor of Colyford, Howard West to “bravely” raise the issue at a recent council meeting.

I say “bravely” because it takes a bit of guts to go against the grain at Colyton Parish Council meetings. They are, as demonstrated frequently in recent years, a close-knit group who close ranks whenever anyone dares to challenge their modi operandi.

This newspaper is the only one that takes any interest in Colyton Parish Council by sending a reporter to every meeting. Indeed, we have done that for many years.

From time to time, however, we have upset councillors by reporting on matters that they would prefer not to be publicised, despite such matters being discussed in open council, the inference being that we should only report on the positives and never the negatives. That view, of course, is contrary to the basic principles of democracy and we have resisted any attempt to stop us doing our job responsibly.

We really upset the council recently when we had the audacity to record their deliberations at a particularly controversial meeting, to ensure we got it exactly right. To do so was contrary to the council’s standing orders (rules). We had never been sent a copy of those standing orders and they are not listed on the council’s website, at the library, on the council notice board or any other public place.

The council threatened to report us to the Press Complaints Commission for contravening their rules but common sense prevailed and if we want to record meetings in the future we have to seek permission which, from time to time, we will do.

The parish council defended its commitment to Colyford at its last meeting and Howard West took a bit of a battering over his claims about the village not getting  its fair share.  

But it was his democratic right to raise the matter and he should not be unnecessarily castigated because he did not tow the party line.

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