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Change urged on ‘complacent’ parish council

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Community leaders in a West Norfolk village are being accused of complacency amid demands by some residents for change at the ballot box.

Leaflets have been distributed to residents in Clenchwarton urging new candidates to stand in May’s parish council elections ahead of a meeting today.

But the authority’s current chairman has dismissed their claims and accused them of not taking an active part in village affairs.

The leaflet says a group of residents has been holding meetings in a bid to find what it describes as a “better way forward” for the village.

It claims that six of that group are willing to stand for election to the 12-member parish council at the polls on May 2 and others are considering joining them.

The document calls for a full review of ongoing plans for a new community hall and sports pavilion in the village and voices far-reaching concerns about the council’s work.

It accuses the council of lacking transparency, citing issues such as delayed publication of minutes and the use of closed sessions in meetings, and questioned the conduct of members relating to a controversial planning issue in the village.

Unrest in Clenchwarton (7806343)
Unrest in Clenchwarton (7806343)

And it also argues that a lack of elections, caused by fewer candidates standing than there are seats, has harmed the health of local democracy.

The document said: “There is a real danger that a complacent council is no longer acting in the best interests of the village.”

But the current parish council chairman, Sheila James, claimed the group behind the leaflet was only interested in “getting its own way” and had not taken part in discussions about the hall issue.

She said: “We always put it out when we having a meeting. There’s no way people can say they don’t know about it.

“We’ve got a thing called the Clenchwarton Community Project. No-one turns up to the meetings.”

She added that the council would be drawing up a full response to the leaflet’s claims and suggested their activities were constrained by rules imposed on them by higher authorities.

However, the leaflet claims that calls for a local poll on the hall plan have been rejected and letters on the issue have been ignored by the council.

The residents’ meeting, which has been called ahead of the publication of the formal notice of election on Monday, will take place at the Victory pub today at 5.30pm.

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