Parish council in chaos as five of seven councillors walk out

Firsdown parish councillors, five of whom have just resigned

Firsdown parish councillors, five of whom have just resigned

First published in News
Last updated
Salisbury Journal: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

THE future of Firsdown Parish Council is in doubt after five of the seven councillors, including the chairman and vice-chairman, resigned - four of them citing differences of opinion with the clerk.

Four of the councillors who have resigned – Melanie Bishop, Brian Edgeley, Helen Edgeley and Paul Hewitt – say “procedural issues” with clerk Melanie Thomas have forced them to step down.

A fifth, Mike Villis, has resigned due to personal issues.

Brian Edgeley, the former vice-chairman, says it was the inflexible approach of Mrs Thomas that led to the mass walk-out.

“I was unable to work with the clerk of the parish council,” Mr Edgeley said.

“We are here to serve the parishioners and she is only interested in procedure.”

Mrs Thomas refused to comment to the Journal on these claims from the former councillors.

This just leaves Cllr Simon Brown and Cllr Len Simcock on the council, and that is not enough members to form a quorum and be able to govern the parish.

Melanie Bishop, the former chairman of the council, said: “It is not enough members to have meetings but we will not be returning to the council.”

This leaves the council in the difficult situation where it is unable to co-opt members due to the lack of councillors.

The council will have to hold fresh by-elections to be able to even have a parish council at all.

The only other option according to local government expert David Kett, would be for the two remaining councillors to hold parish meetings, which would be open to all electors to contribute to.

They would be similar to the annual parish meeting the council is currently obliged to hold once a year.

Although the parish council is separate to Wiltshire Council, Cllr Chris Devine has offered his support in solving the issue.

He said: “If there is any way I can help the council I am more than happy to during this time.”

Comments (4)

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11:39am Fri 8 Aug 14

IanMcL says...

1. The clerk is employed by the Parish Council. Surely, they decide their processes?

2. Salisbury will always step in and claim them!

3. A sad day for democracy. Let's hope a decent solution is found. Firsdown always contribute well to the Southern Area Board.
1. The clerk is employed by the Parish Council. Surely, they decide their processes? 2. Salisbury will always step in and claim them! 3. A sad day for democracy. Let's hope a decent solution is found. Firsdown always contribute well to the Southern Area Board. IanMcL
  • Score: -1

2:28pm Fri 8 Aug 14

John Wigs says...

A clerks duties are clear and should be listed so that there is no confusion!
I have seen Clerks making decisions that are clearly not their responsibility to do so. They are not elected representatives of the Council! and are there only to reflect what the councils decisions are! The only input is one where they point out legalities and the running of its members. Recording minutes and statements is a full time enough job and their responsibility in making sure it is all run correctly. They should also point out when needed what Councillors can and cannot do! Disagreements between Councillors is all part of the Job and their job is to support their voters wherever they can.
A clerks duties are clear and should be listed so that there is no confusion! I have seen Clerks making decisions that are clearly not their responsibility to do so. They are not elected representatives of the Council! and are there only to reflect what the councils decisions are! The only input is one where they point out legalities and the running of its members. Recording minutes and statements is a full time enough job and their responsibility in making sure it is all run correctly. They should also point out when needed what Councillors can and cannot do! Disagreements between Councillors is all part of the Job and their job is to support their voters wherever they can. John Wigs
  • Score: 1

2:31pm Fri 8 Aug 14

John Wigs says...

A clerks duties are clear and should be listed so that there is no confusion!
I have seen Clerks making decisions that are clearly not their responsibility to do so. They are not elected representatives of the Council! and are there only to reflect what the councils decisions are! The only input is one where they point out legalities and the running of its members. Recording minutes and statements is a full time enough job and their responsibility in making sure it is all run correctly. They should also point out when needed what Councillors can and cannot do! Disagreements between Councillors is all part of the Job and their job is to support their voters wherever they can. They can of course dismiss them and appoint another!
A clerks duties are clear and should be listed so that there is no confusion! I have seen Clerks making decisions that are clearly not their responsibility to do so. They are not elected representatives of the Council! and are there only to reflect what the councils decisions are! The only input is one where they point out legalities and the running of its members. Recording minutes and statements is a full time enough job and their responsibility in making sure it is all run correctly. They should also point out when needed what Councillors can and cannot do! Disagreements between Councillors is all part of the Job and their job is to support their voters wherever they can. They can of course dismiss them and appoint another! John Wigs
  • Score: 1

4:41pm Fri 8 Aug 14

IanMcL says...

My first post is not clear.

For clarity, it is the Councillors who vote on the processes under which they will act (within the rules of course) and the clerk's duty is to point out if they stray and ensure they keep to their own rules. The cllrs are elected and the clerk paid by them to act for them.

Providing the Firsdown PC are acting properly and within their own rules, it is for them to advise the clerk accordingly and carry on.
My first post is not clear. For clarity, it is the Councillors who vote on the processes under which they will act (within the rules of course) and the clerk's duty is to point out if they stray and ensure they keep to their own rules. The cllrs are elected and the clerk paid by them to act for them. Providing the Firsdown PC are acting properly and within their own rules, it is for them to advise the clerk accordingly and carry on. IanMcL
  • Score: 3

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