The attendance at the recent parish meeting in Rothbury completely dwarfed the attendance at previous meetings in recent years.
Residents’ interest had undoubtedly been aroused by the reports of the huge amount of time the parish council has spent in the past two years dealing with questions and complaints from one local resident, whose identity remained undisclosed up to the day of the meeting. An additional and related factor was the forthcoming parish council election.
So what did we learn?
We learned more about the huge amount of time and energy that the parish council has had to spend on the complainant’s issues. We were told about the indirect costs of this to residents in terms of the disruption of the parish council’s normal duties. There are also direct costs, most notably because of his triggering an election.
We also learned the identity of the mysterious complainant. And we heard him present a summary of his complaints.
So, has there been gross misbehaviour by our councillors? Have they seriously wasted our money? Have they badly mishandled local issues?
No, nothing of this nature was revealed. The questions and complaints appeared to relate to procedural and bureaucratic niceties.
Nothing was learned that undermined the local perception of our parish council as a body of honest, well-intentioned and hard-working volunteers with the interests of our community at heart.
Through this parish meeting the complainant has now added to his time-wasting triumphs. He has succeeded in wasting the time of a large number of local Rothbury residents and in undermining the value of our annual meeting.
The residents who attended this meeting all care about their community and want to engage constructively in positive approaches that will improve it, rather than in negative fighting about procedural issues.
Think of how much value could have been gained had the time been spent discussing how to progress important local issues, of which there are plenty.
But having turned up, we discovered that the only issue to be addressed is how to prevent more of our parish council’s time, and now our own, being wasted.