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West Norfolk villager 'perplexed' after being twice-rejected from role on parish council

A man who has been twice-rejected from joining a parish council has spoken of his bemusement at the situation.

Philip Wagstaff said when he applied for a councillor role at Methwold Parish Council in July, there were about six vacancies, but when it came to the council’s co-option meeting last week, only he and one other man had applied.

“We were both invited to give a little speech. We effectively said the same thing, that we both live in the area and have got involved with local issues,” Mr Wagstaff said.

Methwold village sign
Methwold village sign

After a secret vote, the other man was co-opted on to the parish council, but Mr Wagstaff had been unsuccessful, and was told he had received just three votes out of a possible seven.

“I was a bit perplexed by this as I knew there were multiple vacancies,” he said.

Mr Wagstaff says it’s not the first time he had been turned down from joining the parish council, but on the previous occasion he had been an “active” member of the Labour Party, which he no longer is.

Mr Wagstaff said he had not been given an indication as to why he had been rejected, but he wondered if it was for political reasons, as the parish council is non-political.

He said he had hoped to represent the community, having become familiar with a number of local issues.

“There’s quite a lot of development going on around here and we have a big problem with speeding traffic,” Mr Wagstaff said.

“I recently joined the community speedwatch and during the summer I went on a litter pick – we try to help keep the village looking nice.”

Tom Ryves, borough councillor for the area, said he believed Mr Wagstaff had all the necessary attributes to be a parish councillor.

“He’s lived here for a dozen years or so, he’s also active with the speedwatch, he’s retired, he’s exactly the sort of person you want on a balanced council,” Mr Ryves added.

“The council has been short of councillors for a considerable period of time, it can’t provide a proper service to the community.

“They are running a serious democratic deficit.”

Methwold Parish Council has been contacted for comment but they had not responded at the time of going to press.

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