I thank Cllr. Brian Hall for his response to my letter, however, I have the following comments in reply
Q1. The issue of room hire is irrelevant as I believe this was waived prior to the council meeting and in fact was mentioned by Councillor Fleming. Whilst Aycliffe Village Hall should be complimented for not charging room rent, the Big Club, irrespective who organises the event, will make a reasonable profit from the sales of drinks on the evening.
Should all the profits from this evening go to a charitable organisation? If so I will be the first to send a letter of thanks,if it is a local charity.
Q2. You state there is “ currently only one Party in the Park” does this mean that the two ‘picnics in the park’ are not events?
Q3. You state that in the Council Newsletter it was clearly stated that “The Festival Working Group is currently considering event applications” Smoke and Mirrors and mentioning the Council’s website is a bit superfluous as the majority of people never visit the website.
In the “Newsletter” you tell people, in respect of the Aycliffe Village Hall event, to “buy your tickets early as it was a sell out in 2015!” Then regarding the Music Night at the Working Men’s Club, you state “Another immensely successful event in 2015 was the Music Night in the Working Men’s Club and this too will run again this year” This is definitely a promotion of approved events irrespective of your statement!
Q4. Absolute Discretion – You threatened Councillor Blenkinsopp with disciplinary action if you found he had been going against policy that a councillor cannot speak if he has a declared interest in a subject.
That’s like sending the Chancellor to a World Finance Meeting, but not letting him put his case forward. Does this mean councillors who approved the Public’s Money to be spent on a council event do not have a declared interest and if not who did?
The term “Absolute Discretion” smacks of the tail wagging the dog. It is not the council’s money but the public purse, and therefore should be spent with the utmost care and scrutiny.
Q5. Council working parties made up of councillors, recommending spends to the council without external involvement is a dangerous proposition. If you expect us to believe that there isn’t any collusion or off-the-record discussions then I shall jump on the next ship to Mars because it happens in all walks of life and especially in public offices.
Q6. The amount of events put forward by one group should be applauded as trying to make this festival a success. They should not be penalised because a working group feel that one area of the town is being proactive. If the council feels this way then maybe the Councillors themselves should be pushing their own wards to participate.
Saying that it might have been nice for our local ward councillors to become engaged with the community centre and bring some of their local knowledge and experience to the table.
I thank Newton News for publishing my letter and the subsequent response, however unpalatable. I have drawn an end to this public debate as I do not want to engage in a tit-for-tat column. Should any councillor wish to discuss any of my comments with me I am at The Cubby every morning, Saturdays included, except Wednesdays.
Stanley T .Wise
Neville Community Centre.
Town Council Decisions on Summer Festival Questioned